Monday, April 24, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Book turnoffs



Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme: Top Ten Book Turnoffs

Somehow I thought this list would be really easy for me, because there are so many blurbs that I read and then roll my eyes. There have been a few of audiobooks that I started recently but couldn't deal with after the first 20 pages so I just DNFed them. But despite all that it was actually pretty hard to remember exactly what kinds of things make me not want to pick up a book! 

Here we goooooo


1. Spoiled/selfish/vain main characters
(usually of the rich white girl variety)

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2. Love triangles
(I did enjoy the Hunger Games but the love triangle thing was such an annoyance)

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3. Catty/mean girls
(why is the beautiful yet bitchy girl still a trope -___-)

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4. Romance-heavy
(I have my ships, but when the romance takes precedence over THE END OF THE WORLD I'm pissed)

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5. Purple prose
(some people can pull it off - Laini Taylor, Jay Kristoff - and some just can't)

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6. Unbearable levels of male gaze

(this is directed at you, male authors of SFF who write hyper-sexualized female characters)
(Also I know I'm gonna get some flak for my example, but as much as I admire the worldbuilding and the subtlety and AURI I'm sorry just way too much objectification in this series)

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7. Stereotypes of POC (especially Asians, because I am one...)
(ahem hem token nerdy Asian best friend)

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8. Characters I don't relate to
(nothing concrete here, but if I don't at least like the characters I have a really hard time staying invested in a book)

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I didn't quite get to 10 things, but I think that's fine. This post was frankly kind of depressing to write, just thinking about all the books I didn't like in the past few years. Thankfully I've gotten really good at figuring out if I'll like a book by the blurb and a few friends' reviews, so I haven't read too many books I didn't like recently!


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Sunday, April 23, 2017

ARC Review: Skullsworn


29939037Review: Skullsworn
Author: Brian Staveley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.
The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."
Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.
Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love...and ending it on the edge of her sword. 


Fantastic! I loved this book so much, even more than the original trilogy. The best part of this book was learning about the origins of one of the most enigmatic characters in The Unhewn Throne trilogy. I loved seeing who Pyrre was when she was younger; she grows so much over the timeline of this book, but there's also so much growth between Pyrre in this book and Pyrre in the trilogy. I had so much fun trying to figure out and Pyrre's secrets, especially since she was so secretive in the first book.

I really loved how this book also revealed a lot more about the mythology of the world. We learn a lot more about Ananshael's priests and priestesses, and how much they sacrifice to become masters of their order. It's also interesting to see how they view the world, because as foreign as it seems, their beliefs actually make a lot of sense if you think about it. I loved how our own questions were answered when Pyrre questioned the seeming paradoxes of their belief system. Aside from Ananshael's mysteries, we also learn a lot about more local gods from Pyrre's home town. Then there's all the connections between the new mythology in this book and what we know from the trilogy. It was a feast!

I also loved how the setting was such a big character in this book. Pyrre's home town is on the banks of a swampy delta, and like many other things in this series, it is vicious. This delta is full of terrifying animals like crocodiles and snakes, aside from the river itself, which moves and changes paths as if it has a mind of its own.

I loved so much about this book, it's really hard for me to think of anything I didn't like! I loved the new characters, the wit and humor, the rich writing style, and just being in this world again!

A free eARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Monday, April 17, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Instant attention grabbers



Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's theme: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

This is a fun theme! Here are 10 things that will make me grab a book before I've even finished reading the entire synopsis.

  1. Heist stories

     23437156
  2. Parallel universes/many worlds

    22055262
  3. Dragons

    28876
  4. Based on Asian mythology/folklore

    10852343
  5. Pirates

    865293
  6. Fairy tale retellings

    11235712
  7. POC SF/F authors

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  8. Favorite author: Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, VE Schwab, Patrick Ness, Neal Shusterman

    68428
  9. Friendships

    11925514
  10.  AIs/robots
    11516221



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Thursday, April 13, 2017

SFF reading challenge update 2




We're about a quarter of the way through the year, so here's an update on how I'm doing on the reading challenge!


Purple books are ones I've finished, and ones in gray are books I'm planning on reading for the challenge.

1) Fairy tale retelling: Miranda and Caliban by  Jacqueline Carey - A retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest
2) Historical Fantasy: Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear - an alternate history/fantasy based on Mongolia in the time of Genghis Khan
3) Anathem or Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
4) non-British Steampunk: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo - Russian/Scandinavian steampunk? HAHA
7) Comic book: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
9) A classic: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
13) earth-based sci-fi: Station Eleven by  Emily St. John Mandel - a beautiful post-apocalyptic story about how people find their humanity after the end of the world
16) POC MCs: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - multiple POC main characters, including Moira, Doc, and Ivy. Extra glad that Asian POCs were featured!
19) POC author: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang - loved this anthology!
20) M/M Romance: A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab - Rhys and Alucard are THE OTP
22) Pub 2016: Empire of Storms by SJ Maas - another epic love-hate installment of the Throne of Glass series haha
24) Novella: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
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Monday, April 10, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I've Read



Here are some of the most unique books I've ever read! I love them all and definitely recommend them :)

 Image result for a darker shade of magic

How many other books have you read involving 4 alternate Londons, a magical cloak, and a badass cross-dressing pirate? None? That's what I thought :)
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This book is gorgeously written, and I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful and unique this magical circus is.

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The Magician's series as a whole is unique in that it's all about subverting fantasy tropes but it's also about growing up. I loved the third book!
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Not only is this a ridiculously inventive and hilarious and horrifying sci-fi book, the words on the page make pictures that also tell a story. Such a unique and amazing series!
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I don't even know what genre this book is, it's a little bit of everything, honestly! Plus it's a love letter to bookstores, which is amazing.
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Shameless plug for one of my favorite books, I've never read another book about conmen that was so endearing, terrifying, and beautifully written. It definitely helps that it's one of the most feminist fantasy series I've read written by a guy!
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A lot of fantasy books are about how to defeat the evil emperor (LOTR, anyone?). But what if it's way more complicated than that? I've never read any other books that so seamlessly brought together heists, rebellion, and insane world-building.
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There are a lot of books about WWII, but none of them has been as emotional as this one. This book is so unique in the way it's told and the way it focuses on two best friends.
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One of the most compassionate looks at mental illness I've ever read. It's 
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Any other cyborg cinderellas out there? NOPE. I adore this series so much!!


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ARC Review: Winter Tide


29939089Title: Winter Tide
Author: Ruthanna Emrys
Genre: Science fiction, historical fiction

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. Government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.
The government that stole Aphra's life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.
Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.


I didn't realize Winter Tide was based on Cthulu mythology and the worlds of HP Lovecraft until I started reading it. The funny thing is that I've actually read some of Lovecraft's short stories on Cthulu, I just am not a die-hard fan so I've forgotten a lot of the details. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of this book if I were a bigger fan of Lovecraft. Even with my limited experience I got the sense that Ruthanna Emrys was paying homage to his universe while also dissecting and re-imagining it. I definitely appreciated the more feminist lens of Emrys over Lovecraft!

Winter Tide is sort of historical fiction, with some sci-fi thrown in. It weaves in elements of United States history with crazy science fiction elements; I thought bringing in Japanese internment was a genius idea. The main character and her brother are isolated and locked down for because people fear those who do not look like them. The pair finds comfort when Japanese Americans join them; together they bond over their "otherness". It's a simple idea but it makes so much sense!

A lot of Winter Tide is like that. There aren't any huge twists because you find out most of the secrets in the beginning. While there are many unexpected elements, they all weave into the story so well that you can really see how everything fits together and how it wouldn't make sense for it to be any other way. The characters and plot are both very deliberate.

My biggest complaint with this book is that it was hard for me to get emotionally invested in it. It's really hard to feel any emotional connection through Aphra's narration. Aphra's voice is a little dry, very introspective and a little bit...alien. She's not someone that you can easily see yourself as, and of course that's the point, but it still makes it hard to get through the story when Aphra is deconstructing and reflecting on everything with such reserve and detachment.

I would definitely recommend this book for people who love Lovecraft and aren't put-off by a more introspective and slow-moving science fiction story. This book is written in such a unique and lovely way, I will definitely look out for more by Emrys even if this one wasn't my cup of tea.

A free eARC was provided by Tor Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Monday, April 3, 2017

ARC Review: Waking Gods


30134847Title: Waking Gods
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Science fiction

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.
Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.


SO GOOD. SO SO SO GOOD. I LOVED THIS, I'M GRINNING AND I CAN'T STOP.

Sleeping Giants was one of my favorite sci-fi books of 2015, and I had really high expectations for Waking Gods. This book had everything I loved about the first book, but everything was even better the second time around. Definitely no second book slump here!

Waking Gods picks up a few years after the events of Sleeping Giants, with many of the same narrators. There are a few new voices and I loved seeing how they fit into the larger story. Even though the story is mostly told through journals, reports, and interviews, which can seem a bit emotionally distant, this book was a huge emotional roller coaster. I was grinning, crying, shocked, freaking out...let's be real, I was freaking out for a good 90% of the book because everything was so intense.

This book pulls no punches. None of your favorite characters are safe. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I don't want to say too much about the plot of this book because so much of it is a surprise; even just the first few chapters leave you reeling with new revelations. I guess the most I can say is how much I love the characters in this book. They all have grown so much since we first met them in book 1, and I love how their relationships with one another also continue to evolve while they struggle to prevent the end of the world. This story is as much about humans and the people they love as it is about giant alien robots and the end of the world.

I love how this book is so tightly plotted and intelligent. It's rare that a book is a suspenseful page-turner, a profound meditation on human nature, and a hard-science sci-fi story all at once, but that's exactly what this is. Just when you think you know how this story is going to go, it completely up-ends genre tropes and goes in an entirely new direction. I cannot wait to see where book 3 will take us!

A free eARC was provided by Del Rey via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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