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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: Part of Your Nightmare by Vera Strange

Part of Your Nightmare by Vera Strange

Disney Chills #1

July 7, 2020 – Disney-Hyperion

Source: Off My Bookshelf, Kindle Netgalley

**The  publisher provided a review galley via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.** 

Summary Disney Chills

Shelly Anderson is in the middle school and all she really wants is to make friends, not be the new kid and beat her nemesis in the next swimming competition. After a strange wave pulls her into the ocean she may get her chance. But, it’ll come at a price.

My Thoughts

I am enjoying what Disney is doing. You have the Twisted Tales, the Villains series  and  now Disney Chills. Think of Goosebumps except  with Disney Villains, and without the loophole that ends up saving the day. This series will be perfect for upper elementary  and middle grade readers alike. It’s a great introduction to the horror genre as it is mildly creepy, but very suspenseful. Shelly learns the hardware that should never make a deal with Ursula. I liked that she learned valuable lessons about friendship and doing the right thing. I also really like the ending. It is not what I have come to expect from a Disney story. And that makes me love it even more. I can’t wait for the next one!

 

 

Always Shine!

 

 

 

Audiobook Review: Soul Riders: Jorvik Calling by Helena Dahlgren

Soul Riders: Jorvik Calling by Helena Dahlgren, Narrated by Jennifer Jill Araya 

May 5, 2020 -Andrews McMeel Publishing, Star Stable Entertainment

5 HRs 40 Mins – Middle Grade, Fiction, Fantasy

Source: Off my Bookshelf, Netgalley

**Publisher provided the review copy via Netgalley.  All opinions are my own. ** 

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Four girls end up on the island of Jorvik. They befriend each other and the four star horses at the town’s stables. Each girl has some trauma or challenges that they must overcome. As their friendship deepens the ton’s magical history begins to come alive through them. The girls soon learn that they have magical abilities, and that their horses have made them the fated Soul Riders.

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Audiobook Review –> I was comfortable listening to this audiobook, but it was also wan’t something that was exceptional.  The extras, like the song that Lisa sings and the music that’s added a bit of magic to the experience.  Sometimes there are stories that I enjoy more because of the audiobook. Unfortunately, I think that this was one that I should have read.

 

The Story –>The actual story was okay  I didn’t like it as much as I had hoped that I would. But, it was one that I could  see reading with  with my daughter.  There were some strong highlights. I did like the four main characters, the discovery of their magical powers and the legendary  connections to their horses. But there’s an overdose of convenience  and things that you’re simply  supposed to accept. While the story is building up to something, what that is  remains unclear.  Throughout the book there is a stuttering cadence to the pace of the book. Finally, when it catches its rhythm  it ends. On. A. Cliffhanger.  With no resolution and no direction.

Another interesting fact is that Soul Riders ties into a game that kids can play online.  This is targeted to girls and the magic is much tamer than one may expect.

 

Always Shine!

 

 

July Releases

I know that most people talk about books that have yet to be released or that will be releasing in the coming month. I want to look back at the books that have just been released.  And I wanted to do this mainly for access. With everything going on some people have access to libraries and some don’t. Right now, I have access but it’s through curbside pick up made by appointments only.  I have also noticed that sometimes my library doesn’t enter book information until the month of release, once they have the book in hand. Sometimes they do it when they have ordered the book and it’s about to be released. Long story short, I wanted to focus on titles that you didn’t really have to wait for. Everything that I talk about now, will be available to buy right now and hopefully that means it’s available via your library as well.

I have pulled titles from my review stack, there are plenty more July releases.

the relentless moon

The Relentless Moon (Lady Astronaut #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal 

Released July 14 by Tor Books

deal with the devil

Deal With the Devil (Mercenary Librarians #1) by Kit Rocha

Released July 28 by Tor Books

Ghostwood Song

Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters 

July 14 by HarperTeen

Kikis Delivery Service

Kiki’s Delivery Service (#1) by Eiko Kadono 

July 7 by Delacorte Press

part of your nightmare

Part of Your Nightmare (Disney Chills #1) by Vera Strange 

July 7 by Disney-Hyperion

shielded

Shielded (#1) by Kaylynn Flanders 

July 21 by Delacorte Press

the beast warrior

The Beast Warrior (The Beast Player #3-4) by Nahoko Uehashi 

July 28 by Henry Holt & Co

The Book of Dragons

The Book of Dragons edited by Jonathan Strahan 

July 7 by Harper Voyager

the lost city

The Lost City (The Omte Origins #1) by Amanda Hocking 

July 7 by Wednesday Books

The Princees Will Save You

The Princess Will Save You (#1) by Sarah Henning 

July 7 by Tor Teen

The Second Star

The Second Star by Alma Alexander 

July 1 by Crossroad Press

Trouble the saints

Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

July 21 by Tor Books

unconquerable sun

Unconquerable Sun (The Sun Chronicles #1) by Kate Elliott

July 7 by Tor Books

 

 

Are there any books that I should know about?

Always Shine!

 

July’s Reflections

July was a pretty good month, for reading and blogging. If you follow me on Instagram than you know that I spent most of the month highlighting science fiction and fantasy books written by women. It was a month-long event that I joined in thanks to The Fantasy Hive.  I also revived this blog.  Over the month, I discovered and decided on some things.  And I’ll talk about that and then get into the bookish stuff.

Discoveries and Decisions

When I first decided to revive this blog, I was going to do so with the intent of maintaining the sister blog At Home With a Book equally, But, I discovered that this is where I want to be. In this world of science fiction and fantasy written by women is where my heart soared. And after talking to some of my bookish friends, it was pointed out that I sounded more passionate about this place and should probably focus on it. The question that has plagued me since the start of this blog and has been the source of the ebb and flow of my attention here, is what do I do with the books that are not relevant to this blog? Why not put everything in one place? So, I will keep the sister blog for the other books, as I work to get Edelweiss and Netgalley down to 0 ( I know such a lofty goal) and then I will let that blog go.  After all I did agree to review the titles on my blog.  But things will be looking different. Mainly, I will be here most of the time, my reading and reviewing for this blog will take the priority.

 

So with this fresh start I decided I would set new goals here and see where the year takes us.

Goals

I am going to keep it very simple. I have two BIG goals and then each month I will set mini goals to help achieve the bigger goals.

#1– Decrease the number of Unread books on my shelf. At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in the Unread Shelf Project and scanned most of the unread books. Then in June I bought a lot of books and  demolished any progress that I had made. So this is a lifetime (though I really hope that it doesn’t take a lifetime to get through all of them. So at the beginning of July I decided to do a reset and this time I included all of my kids chapter books. At the beginning of July that total was 1574.

Mini Goal- Maintain or decrease by 10

Progress- Well, it’s not as bad as it could be. It increased by 6.

August Mini Goal – Maintain the total at 1580 (baby steps is the name of this game)

#2 -This a brand new goal that I decided on in the last week. I want to get all of my Edelweiss cue down to just the 2021 release. Another lofty goal, but if I am diligent than I think that it is possible.

Progress-  5 (I have read 2 books and DNF’d 3) There were some books that I had read and reviewed but had never updated my Edelweiss account, but I am not sure how many of those were like that.

August Mini Goal – I was going to set a mini goal that would allow me to knock out quite a few books this month. But, if you know me or if you pay attention to my reading then you know that I don’t do very well with  TBRs or anything that slightly resembles that. Originally I was going to focus on sequels-because really there are so many that I could pick up right now and knock out.  But last month, I had a more structured reading month than I normally do. So I decided to let myself loose. So this month, I will pick random words (or have random words given to me) and pick based on those words. I already have 2 words – Star and Bone. I will pick an Edelweiss title (or 2) and an unread book based on the word.

July’s Book

Total Books Read: 15

Unread Books Read: 4

Edelweiss Progress: 5 ( 2 Read and 3 DNF’D)

Netgalley Progress: 5

DNF’d (These are books that were marked as currently read on GR or The Story Graph and Then DNF’d): 1

WOSFF Titles:  5

Reviews Posted

DNF Review of Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Five Reasons to Read Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Blood of Stars Duology by Elizabeth Lim

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland 

My Kind of Town by Shelly Laurenston

Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse by Chantel Acevedo

 

Blog Tour Promo: A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens. + Giveaway

A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens 

July 28, 2020 -Razorbill

368 pgs-  Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut. Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless. During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured? Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with. When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen? Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.

AUTHOR BIO

Sasha Laurens

SASHA LAURENS grew up in Northern California, where she learned to drive on Highway 1’s switchback turns and got accustomed to the best weather in the world. After studying creative writing and literature at Columbia University, she lived in New York for years and, at various times, in Russia. She currently resides in Michigan, where she is pursuing a PhD in political science.

Twitter

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GIVEAWAY:

Prize: Finished Copies of A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens (US/Canada Only)

Start date: July 28th, 2020 – End date: August 3rd, 2020

Click Here

DNF Review: Song Below Water

Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow 

June 2, 2020 – Tor Teen

288 pgs. – Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy,

Source: Off My Bookshelf, Kindle, Netgalley

**The publisher provided a review copy, via Netgalley. All opinions are my own. **

Song below water1

Tavia is a siren and she is forced to keep this a secret. An incident from her childhood causes her and her family to pack up and move to Portland, Oregon where there’s a network of people that will cover and protect Tavia’s identity, Effie has come to live with them as well. Effie is known for a childhood incident where four of her friends are turned in statues/ Now they’re in high school  and they are doing their best to survive in a world that fears them.

Song below water2

This was ones of my anticipated books this year. I picked up the audio and made it 50% into it -a lot further than if I had read it. While you are getting to know Effie and Tavia you know that there’s something happening. You home that whatever it is will allow them the freedom to be who they are, and that no one gets hurt. But, nothing actually happens in the first half of the book. The revealing of what is going on is very slow. I was gonna just switch over to the ebook to finish it, but four days later and I didn’t even think about the book. So here we are. I have been told that it does get better in the last half of the book. Maybe I’ll circle back to it. I just don’t know.

 

Always Shine!

 

5 Reasons to Read Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Trouble the Saints By Alaya Dawn Johnson 

July 21, 2020 – Tor Books

320pgs. _ Adult, Fantasy. Historical

Source: Off my Bookshelf, Kindle. Netgalley

**The publisher provided a review copy via Netgalley. All opinions are my own. **

About trouble the saintsPhyllis grew up in Harlem, but soon becomes swept away in the swirling current of the Manhattan underground. She has been blessed (or cursed) with the gift of the hands.  A condition that has made her the perfect assassin for the Russian Vic, the local crime boss. But maybe the gift is leaving her for abusing what it empowered her to do. Maybe she’s been lied to and the bargain that she thought she made was just an illusion, a way to trap her into doing what she never would have otherwise done.

 

5REASONStrouble the saints

I have to be honest, at this point I had anticipated having this completely read. But in truth I am almost done. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I am enjoying the story. So, I am attempting something new. These reasons are based on my first and current impressions. If my opinions change when I finish then  I will come back and let you all know. I am not sure how I feel about this method of reviewing, but I want to try something new. 

*Alternate History with magic – If you are a fan of historical fiction or fantasy that transport you so smoothly that it’s almost as if you can see what’s happening before you, then you will enjoy the writing style. If you strip away  the magic (the numbers and the hands) than you still have a very rich story with vibrant characters that pull you into their orbit.  You still want to have conversations (or fight) with them.

**An assassin with morals – She is known as an Angel of Justice, and as Vic’s knife. She is okay with the lives that she has taken because she is certain that the people that see the sharp edge of her knife are bad people. Murderers. rapists. People who cut off the hands of those gifted by people who are envious of the power.  Or at least that’s what she’s been told. And maybe that hasn’t been the truth. 

*** Unique Magic system- Phyllis is gifted with what she calls hands. In short is an amazing ability where before there wasn’t a hint of it before. You know you’ve been gifted when you have a specific dream. There is the ability for people to win at numbers. It is a bit complicated, as you are just put in the story without a lot of fanfare or explanation. It’s something that is hereditary and the magic is apparently dwindling over ht generations.

****Side Characters that you want to be friends with- Phyllis has issues. (When she started down this path she was young and idealistic and naive-not a good combination.) and so I don’t think she’s the most likable. But there is Dev and Tamara, the soldiers on the train. Even Red Man.  They’re a colorful assortment of people. Maybe not all clearly good. Maybe doing that they can for the better of those they love. But I wouldn’t mind having a drink with them. .

*****Romance -I would say that it was inevitable.  They had history. They have a common goal. But, did I like it? Currently, undecided.

Update

I wanted to come back and update after I have completely finished the book.  I really enjoyed this book. The ending was -for me – perfect.  It was not what I thought would happen, but I am glad that it happened the way that it did. It made me love the book even more.

 

Always Shine!

 

 

Double Review: Blood of Stars Duology by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn (#1)   and Unravel the Dusk (#2) 

July 9, 2019   and  July 7, 2020

Alfred P. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Young Adult, Fantasy, Chinese Mythology

Source: Off My Bookshelf, Kindle, Netgalley

I was given digital copies of these titles, free, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

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Maia lost her two older brothers to the war.  Her third brother injured both of his legs days before a truce was agreed upon. With the impending betrothal between the emperor and the Shaneesh’s daughter, Lady Sarnai, a tenuous peace is found. The emperor summons renown tailors from across the land to compete for the title of Imperial Tailor. With two brothers dead, one seriously injured and a dad slowly unraveling since the death of his wife, Maia chooses to pose as a boy to answer the emperor’s summons. If she wins she can take care of her brother and bring honor to her family’s name. Armed with her skills and the heirloom scissors, Maia finds herself in a palace full secrets and magic.

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So, originally , I decided to listen to Spin the Dawn  on audio. This was one of the titles that was part of my backlog that I want to work my way through. But, I didn’t like the narrator. And I discovered (how I missed this, I will never know) that this was using the girl described as a boy trope. A trope that I generally hate.  I was going to DNF this and call it a day.  But the sequel had just been released, and I had a galley of that as well. I wanted to be sure. So, I tried a little bit on my kindle –  and kept going. Talk about a book full of surprises!  I didn’t really have to worry about the girl posing as a boy trope – as it’s over before the first part ends and there’ll story begins. Maia is such an amazing character. Others treat her as if she’s naive. And I guess, in some ways, she is.  She really thought that the other tailors and the competition would be fair and based solely on skill.  But, she is also stronger than most. When 2 competitors are initimadated and bullied out by a fire, Maia stays more determined than ever. Over and over again, Maia shows strength -even when she is full of fear. She takes the road that’s right even when the cost is high. When the real story begins, she doesn’t just accept everything blindly. Not even when she’s confronted with the reality of magic.  She doesn’t easily or foolishly trust those around her nor is she overly confident in her own abilities. It takes her almost the entire book to accept that the magic of the scissors as a reflection of her skills.  But Maia is also not perfect. She acts impulsively without fully understanding or knowing the consequences.  This story  is not perfect. There is a little bit of convenience thrown in -the one time that Edan shouldn’t believe Maia’s lies, he does. Edan gives warnings without full explanations – all the time. Even the enchanter’s magic is not fully explained. Even with those flaws, I still loved this book. I still recommend this to everyone. And now I am super grateful that I have the conclusion on my kindle loaded and ready to go. I am glad that I didn’t let the audiobook fool me into writing this book off.

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In Unravel the Dusk, Maia’s story continue.  I don’t want to give anything away, so I will keep the synopsis brief.  As the story opens, Maia is once again put in the position of pretending to be someone she’s not.

Guys…. this book… was AMAZING!! I am tempted to say that I want more in this world. But the truth is that this was just enough. This was a very strong conclusion. If this was made into a trilogy I doubt the tautness  of the plot would have been maintained. I doubt the way that you are on edge with your emotions, fears and hopes would have been sustainable for a third book.  I talked mostly about Maia in my above review, and let’s be honest – she’s kind of the star.  She’s the main character and you would think that it’s all set up for her to become the empress, for her to take up the mantle of leadership. And you would be very wrong. There are many roles that Maia must take on -tailor, uniter, fighter, inspirer. But, never empress. In the end, the fact that has never hungered for power that is her saving grace. In this book, she struggles with her demonic transition because of her anger. (Even if it is justified).  While the book is building up to the final battle, the smaller skirmishes are not small and slowly chips away at Maia. She sacrifices the very things -the dresses- that would save her. Even knowing the sacrifices that she is making on the behalf of fighting for her country and do all that she can to protect her people- they don’t follow her.  She is a soldier in someone else’s army. Even though Lady Sarnai doesn’t like  Maia and would much rather kill her, an alliance is formed. But, respect is earned and honor is given. Maia goes into the final battle knowing that it is going to cost her EVERYTHING. There isn’t a loophole she’s holding out hope.  She’s not praying that the silent gods will suddenly get involved. I won’t ruin the ending for anyone, but I will say that I have a new found respect for kingdoms run by honorable warriors. If Maia gets her HEA, it will be because she fought tooth & nail, heaven & earth for it. If Maia does not get her HEA, (and honestly this is probaly the only book I wouldn’t be mad at for not giving me a HEA) the truth will remain that Maia fought and she fought hard. At great cost to herself. She fought knowing that in every future of hers that could be seen, she would die. She went into each battle with honor and throwing her power and hope behind her people. Even now, knowing what happens. the lesson that Maia taught me is that love is never enough.  In this book., you get more of the folklore that shaped Maia’s country. The magic is vibrant, enchanting  and compelling. There is a tautness to this story that makes it very difficult to take a deep breath until the very end. The cost of war is not downplayed or excused, The weight of war is balanced with the purpose of everyone willing to fight for their country. It is unflinchingly hopeless, but softened with love. Even though is never enough.

 

 

Always Shine!

About Elizabeth Lim (From her Website)

Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.  Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and she turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.  Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She grew up in Northern California, with a brief stint in Tokyo, Japan, but now lives in New York City with her husband and their daughter. Elizabeth graduated from Harvard College with an A.B. in music and a secondary in East Asian Studies. She completed her graduate degrees (MM, DMA) at The Juilliard School.

Or you can find her one Twitter

What’s Next? Six Crimson Cranes out in 2021

 

 

Review: The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord 

February 12, 2013 – Del Rey

308 pgs. – Adult, Science Fiction, Romance,

Source: Off My Bookshelf

What It’s About: In short, this is a science fiction novel about a humanoid species trying to find the best place to resettle after their planet is destroyed.

There was a place at one very like it, and that had probably influenced his choice, but the sky was unique. The atmosphere was the cloudy bluish lavender of a recently bioformed planet, and the sun was scorching bright.

Dllenahkh is Sadiri, people known for their strict adherence to the mental disciplines . They are the ruling. After their planet is destroyed the suriving Sadiri are hosted by Cygnus Beta.. Delarua, a Cygnian biotechnician  is selected to accompany Dllenahkh on a scientific expedition to discover societies that may be a cultural or genetic match to the Sadiri.  I doubt that anything I’ve sad does the book any justice  This is so much more than a species trying to find a home to resettle.  You get to the know the characters as they rediscover themselves , as they see themselves through another’s eyes. There’s politics involved as societies fight against one another, as societies’ secrets are revealed and as a society tries to find a new home. There is learning to be done as sometimes cultures and expectations clash. There’s even a society that has taken on the role of the Seelie and Unseelie courts as a way to broker peace amongst themselves. There is still issues of slavery/human trafficking and abuse that must be addressed. Amidst all of that there is science. The study of genetic materials, the reality of parallel timelines land an entire planet is quarantined.  And what you may not expect is the romance. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are subtle hints of attraction but nothing like a full blown courting/dating relationship. It is not like anything that you would expect, but it works. And it is oh so good. This is so much more than I could have hoped for and I am glad that I finally picked it up.

She laughed. It was an adventure to her, an adventure and a mystery all wrapped up in anticipation. She radiated a warm,  pleasant buzz, and several vivid pictures suddenly flickered through her mind. He thought for a moment , understood, and smiled at the compliment.

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