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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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Full Series Review:  Heralds of Valdemar By Mercedes Lackey

Book 1: Arrows of the Queen     Book 2: Arrow’s Flight   Book 3: Arrow’s Fall

*This trilogy can be found collected together in an omnibus titled Queen’s Own. (The Featured Image)

This is the first trilogy in the Valdemar world. This trilogy follows Talia who begins her adventure in the borderlands with Holderkin family. She isn’t happy dreaming of Herald adventures that she’s only read about. She has suffered abuse from the hands of her older brother and the first wife. The only path for her future is to either marry or to join the area’s convent. On the day that the Holderkin wives tell her that they’ve decided that she was going to marry Talia runs away. This is how the companion, Rolan, finds her.

Talia has been chosen by Rolan, but she doesn’t know this. She believes that Rolan has lost his herald and needs to get back to the Collegium, so she takes him. When she gets there, she begins to understand that her life is forever changed. Talia was chosen to be Queen’s Own, not just because what becomes obvious to everyone, but also because of her latent powers that Rolan sensed within her.  Her history of abuse has better prepared her for the challenges and horrors that she faces as Queen’s Own than anything else ever could.

This was the first Lackey book that I’ve read, but I think that this is a great place to start. Talia’s story begins in The Arrows of the Queen, continues in Arrow’s Flight and concludes in Arrow’s Fall. I loved each book, and if you have seen the review/mini-review you know that I rated each 5 stars. Surprisingly, at least to me, Arrow’s Fall, was my favorite.

Each book covers a different aspect of Talia’s journey from training to her coming into the full authority and power of the Queen’s Own.  You also learn more about the history of the heralds and the magic of the companions as you read along.  Though all of the secrets are not revealed, you are satisfied.  Even the characters are unaware of all of the secrets and magic of the companions. Each book is written with care and detail.

While this trilogy may be Talia’s, you read from other perspectives. You learn about Talia not just from being inside her head but also from her interactions with the other characters. It was so easy to fall into this world. A big part of that is because of book two, Arrow’s Flight.  Talia’s internship takes her out of the Collegium, away from what’s happening at court. This allows us to get a bigger sense of the world and people of Valdemar. The real people. She travels to the Northern borderlands and interacts with all manner of people. This allows for a wider view of the world, something we wouldn’t have gotten if we only followed Talia at the Collegium.

This is the beginning of the Valdemar works, and I am assuming that this would be Lackey’s first published works. I am going to say that this is not her strongest work, and that makes me excited to continue reading her works. I loved this trilogy, but I didn’t like everything that happened. Sex is super casual. I understand that it is extremely rare for heralds to make permanent bonds, I get it. But the sex is too casual (almost reckless) to me.  Also the fake love triangle that comes about in book 3 is simply annoying. Taking the triangle out would mean that the whole book would have to be rewritten. But still. . . If you read the entire trilogy you’ll understand what I mean by fake love triangle.

There are a lot of things that Lackey does really well. Her treatment of sexuality falls into this category. Minus the casualness, sex is always treated with respect and consent. The one case where sex is not given with consent, it is dealt with justly. Also, characters’ sexuality was not done to be a talking point. The characters were diverse, mainly (or only) because the Valdemar world was diverse and the characters reflect that.

While fantasy always require a certain amount of suspension of belief, Lackey creates a world that is authentic and easy to visualize, as well as characters that compels you to care enough to get to know them.

Always Shine!

Review: Binti

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti #1

Tor – September 22, 2015

Purpose: received second book for review, diverse read

Source: Library

4 stars

This was super short, only 90 pages. But it packs quite a punch. This is about so much more than a girl going off to university. Binti has left everything and everyone she knows because she is the first of her people to be invited to attend Oomza Uni. It’s not as smooth a trip as she thought it would be. In the end, Binti is forever changed. She is irrevocably changed in ways that may prevent her from ever going home. Her identity is being altered and she has to be redefine/rediscover who she is. I do have to admit that I think that this is a story that I would probably enjoy a bit more in one long story instead of 3 short novellas.

 

Always Shine!

Paranormal Romance: Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts

Paranormal Romance: Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts

The Guardians #1

November 3, 2015 – Berkley Books

Source: Borrowed from a friend

4 Stars

A long time ago, 3 goddesses of the moon created 3 stars (one of fire, one of ice and one of water) as a gift for the new queen. An enemy, a dark god wanted the stars for herself and her own power. To protect the world, the stars fell separately and out of the dark god’s reach.  Today 6 strangers are called together to find and protect the three fallen stars.

When I started this blog, if you would have told me that I would do a review of a Nora Roberts book here, and not my other blog, I would have laughed at you. While love is at the heart of this story, there is so much more going on here. There’s the three moon goddesses, the dark goddess, the seer, the witch and four other characters with their own secrets and stories to tell. While this may not be the best fantasy story out there, it was still pretty good. Since this is the first book, it sets up the next two books in the trilogy. But it is loaded with mystery, love and adventure. Roberts, being the master storyteller that she is, weaves together a tale that quickens the heart from a fast burning romance while at the same time keeping you on the edge of your seat. With just the right amount of prophecy and action, the story remains engaging. Another thing to mention would be the treatment of the fantastical elements. They are treated casually, making them not only common but also believable. I really enjoyed this story.

 

Always Shine!

 

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Heralds of Valdemar #1

DAW Books – March 3, 1987

Purpose:  100 must read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels by Female Authors

Source: My Bookshelf

5 stars

So far, I have not been impressed with the books that have appeared on this list. In fact, I told my friend who is reading along with me that if I didn’t like this book, I was ready to just forget about the list.  But, I loved this book. For so many reasons. Talia, the main character, was very likeable. This was a young girl who was wise beyond her years. Other characters make a comment about this, but it is apparent with the writing. Next would be the relationships in the story. There’s familial, friendship and romantic relationships. Some are destroyed as they should be. Some move from friendship to romantic but reverts to friendship, without all the angst and drama. The romantic relationships range from lifelong to unrequited or in secret. Again, without all the angst and drama.

I loved watching Talia slowly come into her own at the Collegium, into her gifts as well as her role as the Queen’s Own. This book was a foundation book, giving the history if the Collegium as well as the history of companions. But it wasn’t boring, and it wasn’t full of info dumps. There were enough mini-adventures and mystery to move the story along, so you’re not just left with the history. Talia comes to the Collegium at a time where conspiracies and a covert rebellion is brewing. I was lost in the story and enjoyed the writing so much.

One other thing that I really enjoyed seeing in this story was the way women were treated and depicted. Women are valued and treated as equals. Valdemar is ruled by a queen. The queen has the same requirements to rule as the king. This was a sore spot for the king who turned Queen Selenay  into a widow and who was at the heart of the rebellion. Heralds and Heralds-in-training are both male and female. They all go through the same rigorous mental and physical education. In fact, the previous Queen’s Own role that Talia steps into was filled by Talamir-  a man. I am interested to see if this equality continues throughout the rest of the series.

This was an enjoyable read, and I can definitely see how Lackey made it onto the list. She is an author that I will continue to read throughout the year. I am looking forward to catching up on her backlist.

[Finished 1/02]

Always Shine!

 

Review: Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

Tor Books – February 28, 2017

Purpose: Review

Source: Publisher

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

5 Stars

Ethan Makkai has grown up in Los Angeles with an overprotective almost smothering mother, a group of bullies that pay too much attention to him and the annoying ability to see ghosts. He only has one person that he considers a friend- and even that proves to be questionable. The day he sneaks out for a little bit of freedom changes him and sets in motion a set of events that forever alters him.

This was one of my most anticipated books for this year, so I was really looking forward to reading this. I was not disappointed. Lewis does an excellent job with her worldbuilding. Because Ethan is new to Tara, we are introduced to his homeland at a nice steady pace. It’s not so overwhelming where the information is just dumped on you all at once. But, it’s also not so slow that you feel lost and so far from the rest of the characters. It is balanced between discovery and revelation.  Lewis provides enough details and imagery that helps Tara and the people of Tara to come alive.

The characters are well-developed, each with their own distinct personality and voice. Ethan sets out on a reckless and uncertain journey in an attempt to rescue his mother. Along the way he discovers that everything that he thought he knew about himself and his mother turns out to be a lie.

His daughter and the general’s daughter go along with him on the journey. As each gets to know each other, they also get to know themselves better. Each one has come into their powers and destiny along the way. The villain in this story, Sawney Bean, makes for a terrifying opponent. While we get to see him fleshed out, there still seems to be something missing.  It took me a while to name it, but I got it. In the end we still don’t what his internal motivation is unless it turns out to be something as simple as the desire for power. What has corrupted Bean’s soul?

This has a little of everything; mystery, action, sword fights, self discovery. This is a hero’s journey, and the hero constantly fights against all odds. There is also the sweet budding of a romance. I am so glad that the romance stayed in the innocent stasge—especially since there appears that a second book is coming.

Always Shine!

 

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