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WOSFF: Women of Science Fiction and Fantasy

What is Science Fiction and Fantasy?

I thought that this was pretty self explanatory. After talking with a friend, I realized that it may not be. So I thought that I would take the time to discuss what I considered to be science fiction and fantasy. Even with these two parent categories, there are a lot of sub-genres that fall under them.

Science Fiction:  I consider science fiction to be anything that is science related. Specifically, anything to do with the hard sciences biology, chemistry, physics, and anything that has to do with space and such.

Fantasy: This is really the category that causes such confusion. I consider fantasy to be anything that deals with things that are not realistic, depending on the intent. I include stories that include werewolves, vampires, ghosts and other magical beings as long as the intent is not to scare the reader. The supernatural and paranormal beings are usually found in Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance.

I am not an expert about the definitions of science and fantasy, so if its not as specific as you would like, I apologize. These are just the broad definitions that I use when categorizing works.  Some works bleed between genres and that’s okay, as long as the main story falls into one of these two categories, the reviews will be posted on this blog.

Always Shine

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Review: A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell

A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell 

The Janet Watson Chronicles #1

July 31, 2018 – Harper Voyager

304 pgs. – Fantasy, Future, Retelling

Purpose: Review, #offmybookshelf

Source: Publisher

4 stars 

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

If you would like to read the summary, click here to go to Goodreads.

This is a gender and race flipped Sherlock Holmes retelling. Though I was interested in it, I have to admit that I ended up enjoying it a lot more than expected. Dr. Janet Watson was a surgeon in the army, on the front lines during the new civil war. She was discharged when she was shot and lost her arm during one of the battles against the New Confederacy. Now that she is back in DC hoping to get her metal prosthetic replaced for one more fitting for a surgeon, she realizes that things are not going to get any better anytime soon. Once she realizes that the VA has no immediate plans to replace her metal arm anytime soon, she decides to stay in DC. All she needs is a job and a place to stay. She finds a job with the VA and then a friend introduces her to Sara Holmes, someone she is not sure she can stand. As Watson gets comfortable with her new job, new roommate and new routine, she uncovers a mystery that doesn’t make sense, someone is killing civil war veterans.

The first third of the book is getting to know the characters, Watson in particular but also Holmes. While it seems like a big deal that civil war veterans are being killed, that mystery doesn’t really start until a third of the book. While I wouldn’t say that this is a slow book, it is not fast paced either. There were parts of the book that I felt i was making progress only because I continued to read, there were other parts that seemed to fly by. Somehow it works for this book, it fits with Watson’s style. The ending was explosive with the action that was happening on the page, but not with the resolution of the mystery. That was a bit more subdued, happening as Watson recovers in the hospital.

There were small things that I enjoyed, like the nod to Octavia Butler that occurs once or twice throughout the book. The way that Holmes hair is described in locs and another character’s hair is described as being in boxed braids. The way people either see them or overlook them in different situations. Those are the small things that make it apparent that the characters are black. But there was still something that was a bit off, as if the characters were black because the author wanted them to be black and not because they actually were black. I am not sure if that even makes sense.

I really enjoyed this book. It was quiet with its observations even though what was going on around inside the book was very loud. I am definitely looking forward to continuing on with this series.

Review: HeartStone by Elle Katherine White

HeartStone by Elle Katherine White 

(HeartStone #1)

January 17, 2017 -Harper Voyager

352 pgs. – Fantasy, Romance, Fiction

Purpose: Review, #offmybookshelf

Source: Publisher

 4 stars 

I was given a copy of this title, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

If you would like to read the book summary, click here to go to Goodreads.

This is a book that I requested, specifically for this blog and to bring attention to books that I had not seen get a lot of attention. And I have to admit, I am conflicted about how long it has taken me to actually pick up this book. This was one that I was very excited about, and it didn’t disappoint me.  A part of me wishes that I had picked this up sooner. But on the other hand, the second book comes out November 20th so I don’t have to wait as long. Anyway on to the book…..

This was a pretty quick and fun read. At first I was taken in by the threat of the gryphons and the mysterious Riders, all of whom do not ride dragons. But the more that I stayed with the story, the more the characters jumped out at me. While I don’t think that we got to know each of the characters fully, I liked being around them.  The mother determined to have one of her daughter’s wedded, the daughter willing to play nicely until she unexpectedly falls in love, the other daughter in the shadows of the family wanting to go out and face her own adventure.  There were the riders themselves, the brooding clearly unhappy lord, the enthusiastic love smitten best friend and the grieving sister who moves as a warrior in the shadows until her defining act in battle.  I am doing my very best to not just rave and gush about this book, but it’s hard. I really enjoyed it. It was a fun adventure story with a romance that didn’t take the focus off of the main story.

This story is not perfect.  I would have liked to have seen more action, rather than be told about it. (But it kind of works since we are seeing the story through Aliza’s eyes and that is how she would have experienced the action.) I would have liked to know a bit more about the riders, there is a revelation that comes as a surprise simply because we didn’t know what to look for, and neither did Aliza. It wasn’t a major thing, and it was presented in an  “oh there is that” kind of way.  The final battle wasn’t as epic as I was expecting it to be. While there are questions that I still had at the end, it all came rushing together with the illusion that all was said and done. But, there is a second book, so really it’s just a pause and rest in the story. It’s not a cliffhanger, the characters think that it’s over and they are prepared for their happily ever afters.

Despite the flaws, it was enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it. I am looking forward to the next book.

 

Always Shine!

Guess What’s Out?!!

The Queen of Sorrow (The Queens of Renthia #3)

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst 

The Queens of Renthia #3

May 15, 2018 – Harper Voyager

(If you haven’t started, then don’t read on -summary of book 3 follows)

From Goodreads:

The battle between vicious spirits and strong-willed queens that started in the award-winning The Queen of Blood and continued in the powerful The Reluctant Queen comes to a stunning conclusion in The Queen of Sorrow, the final volume of Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia trilogy.

Queen Daleina has yearned to bring peace and prosperity to her beloved forest home—a hope that seemed doomed when neighboring forces invaded Aratay. Now, with the powerful Queen Naelin ruling by her side, Daleina believes that her dream of ushering in a new era can be realized, even in a land plagued by malevolent nature spirits who thirst for the end of human life.

And then Naelin’s children are kidnapped by spirits.

Nothing is more important to her than her family, and Naelin would rather watch the world burn than see her children harmed. Blaming the defeated Queen Merecot of Semo for the kidnapping, Naelin is ready to start a war—and has the power to do it.

But Merecot has grander plans than a bloody battle with her southern neighbors. Taking the children is merely one step in a plot to change the future of all Renthia, either by ending the threat of spirits once and for all . . . or plunging the world into chaos. 

 

This is a series that I plan on starting this month and I’m very excited to have been sent copies.

 

Always Shine!

 

 

 

 

Guess What’s Out?!!!!

This book is one of the books that I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on. And lucky me, Harper Voyager sent me a copy to review.  While I have  not read it yet, (it is the next book that I will be reading though) I wanted to share it with you so you go out and get your copy today!

The Poppy War

The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang 

:May 1st, 2018 – Harper Voyager

From Goodreads:

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

This is one of the books that I will be reading this month, so I will post a review as soon as I finish!
Always Shine!

Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)

Dread Nation  by Justina Ireland 

Dread Nation #1

April 3, 2018 – Balzer & Bray

464 pages -Young Adult, Fantasy, Alternate History, Zombies

Purpose: Fun

Source: Library

Wow! Finishing this book made me take a step back and take a deep breath.  I regret not pre-ordering this book, and not buying it. I regret that this is the first book by Ireland that I have read (though I believe I have one or two titles buried in the midst of old digital reviews that I am working my way through).  I am happy that, though there is more to the story, that this book felt complete. Though I am itching to get my hands on a copy of the second book as soon as I can -any way that I can, this was a full bodied story. But there is more to this than I expected when I first started out.

Jane McKeene is someone to be remembered, not just for being a bad-ass with a mouth that gets her into trouble- a lot. She is a complex character that you have to spend quality time with before she opens up and tells you her secrets.

This story is about slavery, it may be called something else and the slaves may have the skills and weapons (sometimes) to kill and they may wear finery and whatnot, but make no mistake it is still about slavery. It’s just called something else.  You see this in the way that the characters interact with each other. You feel this through the emotions that the astute writing pulls out of you.  You can tell this by the way scenes grow from being life and death shambler tense to the uncomfortable tension that builds from a white man slashing skin across the back of a black person.

This book is so much more than the story of a girl who was born at the wrong time and who is trying to find her way back to her mother and home. But you don’t really see the depth of this book, until you journey with her. It is a hard road and Jane must endure more than she would like, and find strength that she didn’t know for certain that she had, not just to survive. And I think that’s the key, Jane didn’t want to just survive. She wanted better, and she had the strength, skill and knowledge to make things better. Even if she didn’t have the right color skin or political power to do it.

Jane was my favorite character, but it wasn’t because she was the only that was flushed out. No. All of the characters were flushed and felt fully developed. With some you had to dig deeper to figure out their motivation or to find their humanity. But others they were exactly as they presented themselves to be. And that is one of the reasons I enjoyed the characters. They did not easily slide into the role of master or slave. There was more to them than their position belied.

I could literally go on and on about this story, the characters, what happened and what I hope will happen next. But, suffice it to say that Ireland is a master with her words. With a slow reveal that deepens the story and the respect that you have for the characters. If you are looking for fully fleshed out characters (of the good and bad variety) and want a plot that is loaded with actions and secrets that will keep you on your toes, than this is the perfect book for you.

 

Always Shine!

Review: The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

The Serpent's Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond, #1)

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1

February 27, 2018 – Scholastic

368 pg. -Fiction, Middle Grade, Fantasy,

Purpose: Books for my Kids

Source: Library

Kiranmala is just your typical Jersey girl, despite her parents trying to tell her that she’s a princess in another land. Well, at least she wants to be. But everything changes on her twelfth birthday.  Her parents are kidnapped, the spell protecting them is broken. Rakkhosh demons are after her, her parents tell her not to try to find them and two princes come to her rescue. She finds out that she really is a princess, her parents aren’t really her parents and there is a world outside of the one she’s known.

She goes with the princes to get her parents back and in the process learns the truth about herself and her family. The stories she was told as a child are true and actually come in handy at times. But everything that goes wrong does, and Kiran finds a strength inside that she didn’t know she had, but was waiting to be released.

I really enjoyed this book. I remember hearing that this was coming out and tried to get an advanced copy, I really wish that I had. This did remind me of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Lee, in the best of ways.

Kiranmala is a very fun character, and her reaction to the new twist that her life has taken surprised me. Mainly, because she was kind of content with her life back in New Jersey. I mean, she didn’t realize how much until she was gone, but that’s to be expected. She was twelve and her parents were embarrassing, but that’s the story for most kids.  She saw how her parents stood out and all she wanted to do was to blend in.

I cannot speak to the accuracy of the representation of the Indian culture, but I can say that I love the feel that it added to the story. It was colorful and the values, while similar in general, was different and uniquely its own.

While Kiran may not your typical heroine who has hidden powers that she either ignored or didn’t know about, she is a heroine in her own right. She becomes the heroine that she needs to be, stumbling along and finding her way.  I really enjoyed this series starter, and I plan on continuing it as well as check out more from the author.  I think you should check it out as well.

 

Always Shine!

Keep or Re-home Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass

This year, my goal is to focus on reading my own books. I have way too many unread books that number keeps growing.  Some months have been better than others, but it’s only April. The overall project, is to curate my personal library to my vastly varied tastes. One section of my bookshelves are covered with books that I am interested in reading but not sure if I want to keep.  So as I read them, I will review them and decide to keep them or re-home them. This is my first one.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Masss

This is the first book in the series, and I am sure everyone is familiar with this book. But, if you  need to know what this book is about you can click on the picture and it will take you  to the Goodreads page.

I really thought that I would like this series, the cover is pretty cool, it’s about a female assassin. What isn’t there to like? A lot actually. Truth be told, if I had not already bought the next three books in the series this would be an easy decision. I have been told that this gets better as the series continued. So those two factors alone are the reasons I will be continuing on with it.

Okay, for this book. The beginning was pretty middle of the road. Nothing happened to really pull me into the story, and Celaena didn’t impress me as a character. (In fact, I put this book down in the middle of it and didn’t think about touching it for two months.) As the champions began to get killed, and the mystery deepened the story picked up. I really liked the final duel, it had me absolutely in for me. There was magic, demons, and royal deception afoot.  But there were certain things that absolutely ruined it for me.  This amazing and feared assassin was ready to die, until the king’s royal guard came and “willed” her back up and into the duel.  The friendship that developed between Celaena and Nehemia became petty -until the end.  And finally, there is what I see blossoming into a full blown love triangles.  And that right there is a deal breaker. But I have already bought the next three books (did I already mentioned this) at full price. So, I feel I should at least attempt to continue reading the series, to get my money’s worth out of it.

While, there are definitely things that I really liked, the final duel scene, the tests and other violent parts. I also like the idea of Celaena, a female assassin who survived horrible conditions and gets a second chance at freedom, who also carried around a dark past. There are things that I didn’t like, pettiness between friends, the actual character of Celeana and the dreaded love triangle.

Overall: This was ok, a solid 2.5 stars for me.

Suggestion: Check it out from your library before buying it.

Decision: Undecided, let’s see how I feel about the second book, Crown of Midnight. 

Always Shine!

Cover Reveal: Del Toro Moon by Darby Karchut

I have not mentioned Darby Karchut on this blog, but she is a favorite of mine. She is friendly and a joy in real life and writes amazing books.  She is one of my D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) authors, and I highly recommend her. She has something for everyone. (Her adult books are under Darby Kaye.)

Without further ado…..

ruby-and-olivia-sketch

Back jacket copy – DEL TORO MOON by Darby Karchut

Bad enough Matt Del Toro is the greenest greenhorn in the family’s centuries-old business: riding down and destroying wolf-like creatures, known as skinners. He must also learn how to match his father’s skills at monster hunting. Odds of doing that? Yeah, about a million to one. Because Matt’s father is the legendary Javier Del Toro—hunter, scholar, and a true caballero: a gentleman of the horse. 

Now, with the skinners multiplying, both in numbers and ferocity, Matt is desperate to keep his father and hot-tempered older brother from killing each other, prevent his new friend, Perry—a horse-crazy girl who recently moved to their small town of Huerfano, Colorado—from discovering the true nature of his odder-than-oddball family, and save a group of paleontologists from getting skinner-ed.

Luckily, Matt has twelve hundred pounds of backup in his best friend—El Cid, an Andalusian war stallion with the ability of human speech, more fighting savvy than a medieval knight, and a heart as big and steadfast as the Rocky Mountains.

Serious horse power.

Those skinners don’t stand a chance.  

Coming September 2018 from Owl Hollow Press

Middle Grade fantasy

www.darbykarchut.com

www.owlhollowpress.com

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35183477-del-toro-moon?from_search=true

Darby Karchut author photo

Darby Karchut is a multi-award winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter.  A proud native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby is busy at her writing desk. Her books include the best selling middle grade series: THE ADVENTURES OF FINN MacCULLEN. Best thing ever: her YA debut novel, GRIFFIN RISING, has been optioned for film. Her latest book, DEL TORO MOON, releases Fall 2018 from Owl Hollow Press. Visit the author at http://www.darbykarchut.com

If you  have not heard of Darby, then you are missing out. She has three amazing series that you can read while you wait for September to bring us Del Toro Moon.

 

Always Shine!

Review: Stranger Magics by Ash Fitzsimmons

Stranger Magics

Stranger Magics by Ash Fitzsimmons 

November 21, 2017 – Harper Voyager Impulse

464 pg. – Fiction, Adult, Fantasy

Purpose: Review

Source: Publisher

I was given a copy of this book, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

This is a book that I requested from the publisher to review.  I was interested in this because it didn’t sound like your typical fae story. And it’s not.

Colin Leffee appears to be just an ordinary bookshop owner, but, he is half human and half fae. When a changeling appears in his neighborhood he is forced to revisit his past and eventually confront his mother, Tatiana. Tatiana is the ruling queen. Because of his misguided half-brother and a conniving exiled queen, magic begins to fade from our world sealing off Faerie, along with the woman Colin has always loved and the child he never knew he had. Colin and a ragtag group then searches for a way to bring the magic back, not just to rescue to the his love and child, but also to keep the beast from the Grey lands out of this world.

I did enjoy this, just not as much as I had hoped that I would. It had a slow start. I was pulled completely into the story at the 25% mark. The characters are really what made the story. While it did switch back and forth between Colin’s past and the current events, it was engaging. It was fun getting to know him this way.  The side characters; the knight, the half-brother, and the wizard were fun reading about. They were funny, aggravating and flawed with varied backgrounds. It would have been nice if they were each fleshed out more. But as it is, they were fillers for the whole of Colin’s story.

Most of the book was a meandering through Colin’s memories, with spots of adventure thrown in. This isn’t a bad thing, it was great while reading it. It felt as if it was building up to something big. And that’s where it goes downhill. The ending seemed a bit rush, as if at the very end Fitzsimmons decided to expand instead of conclude.  The confrontation between Colin and his mother, than with Mab-the exiled queen- wasn’t all that eventful.

Since the book was already over 450 pages I wish the Fitzsimmons would have added to this book to make one complete story, digging deeper into the characters lives so that we could get to know them as much as we had Colin and building up the confrontations so that it would have felt worth it to have spent this much time anticipating the final showdown.  With that being said, I did read that she is writing a sequel to this. I liked this enough to check out the next book in this series and more by this author.

I liked it enough to say that this is worth checking out, just be aware that it’s more about the journey than the destination.

 

Always Shine!

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