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review 2017-03-16 08:00
Brother's Ruin
Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman

Brother's Ruin was a wonderful short book and a great start to the Industrial Magic series, which kept myself asking only one thing: Where/When can I get the next one? and Is it going to be a full length book? (Okay, these are in fact multiple things but certainly show my enthusiasm).

It had everything in it to make it a very nice read for me. Set in a Victorian England with a Royal Society which enlists everyone with magical abilities, I knew from the start I was going to like it. The Gunns have fallen on some hard times, as a good price is paid for a talented mage, their worries seem to be over when their son Ben seems to develop magical abilities. He's eager to try out, but what he doesn't know is that he's not the mage, his sister is, and she's been hiding it for years.

I was surprised at how much story fitted in the limited amount of pages this book has. Still, I would have loved to see it as a full length novel. The scene was set nicely, and you can see Charlotte struggling between the desire to keep herself safe (and her life predictable) and helping her family. I'm extremely looking forward to the next novel. I would certainly recommend it.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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review 2017-03-16 00:38
Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman
Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman

Series: Industrial Magic #1

 

Brother’s Ruin is Emma Newman’s brand new fantasy novella set in a Victorian world where mages form a kind of guild, the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts. They owe service to the Crown and can’t have a life outside of the Society. Charlotte (or Charlie) is a young woman with magical and artistic talents who chafes at the confines of her life but is desperate to remain free of the Royal Society. Unfortunately, plot happens and Royal Society mages get invited into her home by her father.

 

It’s an interesting world, and I liked Charlotte (her brother Ben is harder to like), but I think this is Emma Newman’s weakest work that I’ve read so far. The suspense gets lost in a lot of convenient happenings where too many things just seem to work. I also felt that a lot of the happenings were a little too well telegraphed. That said, I still enjoyed the book, and I’d definitely pick up a sequel to see more of this world and Charlie. I can see the sequels getting much better as the world gets better established and the plot thickens. Although the immediate story is resolved, this really is just a lead into a larger story.

 

Here’s hoping for more!

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review 2017-03-15 22:36
Planetfall
Planetfall - Emma Newman

It's really difficult to talk about this book without being spoilery, so forgive me if it seems like I'm dancing around things and being cryptic.

 

Things I loved about this book: Almost everything honestly. Specifically though, the voice. Ren is a compelling unreliable narrator. I really appreciated what an excellent job Newman did with conveying what it's like to live with an anxiety disorder. Also, while Ren clearly has a Secret, I wasn't frustrated by the allusions to a bigger untold story like I often am in narratives like this. Ren's POV was so convincing I felt comfortable that the story continued to just hint at whatever happened in the past, because I felt like Ren herself was avoiding thinking about it. I was continually compelled and convinced by Ren's internal struggles.

 

This is a masterfully written book, and it is also a terribly personal book. This isn't a large sweeping drama. There's very little action. The bulk of the story takes place in a matter of days. It skips through time. It's a psychodrama. And in the end it's all about one woman. This was all a big plus for me because of the execution, but it could be a turn-off for people wanting something less meditative and more action packed.

 

Also: the science. I loved that this was a hard sci-fi book, filled with interesting speculative science and alien worlds, and it wasn't weighed down in jargon and complex explainers/exposition. The science is simply woven into the story, and makes perfect sense as you read. It isn't the focus of the story, but it is an important part. I didn't realize just how much I was craving a true hard sci-fi story that has such a personal focus until I was reading this book.

 

Be warned, there is something about this book you may really hate, and that's the ending. When I finished the book I was a bit taken aback, but after sitting with it for a couple days I actually rather like the ending. It feels right to me. However, I am in the extreme minority. Most people (both in my book club and in reading reviews) really strongly dislike the end. So you are warned. I think it is a matter of taste.

 

If you're looking for a deeply personal, meditative, character study: try this book. If you want to read a hard sci-fi that reads more like a psychodrama: try this book. If you love unreliable narrators, or really enjoyed Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer: try this book. If you want a sweeping space opera, an action packed sci-fi filled with a kick-ass heroine, or a book with a more traditional structure and ending: skip this book.

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text 2017-03-14 23:45
Reading progress update: I've read 48%.
Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman

I'm not sure I understand the logic behind not being able to pay the debt.

 

Charlie's father was relying on a commission to pay back the debt, which he lost to Charlie, who used it to pay for her brother's schooling, so we were still keeping the funds within the family and her brother would have needed more money anyway, so I don't see how things were supposed to come out ok. I know there was another commission or two in there, but still.

(spoiler show)
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text 2017-01-20 14:09
Friday Reads!
After Atlas (Planetfall Novel, A) - Emma Newman
Fool Me Once - Harlan Coben
A Portrait of Emily Price - Katherine Reay

So yet another busy weekend ahead. But these are my planned reads. I started After Atlas last night and really enjoyed it. 

 

Fool Me Once will scratch my itch to read thrillers especially after reading such a good one in Defending Jacob.  A Portrait of Emily Price just looks like an entertaining lighter read.

 

Winding down my January TBR and trying to get all my library books read before February. In February,  I will be reading only books I own. I'm looking forward to it as I realize I have quite a few good reads waiting for me. I want to see how many I can get read or donate to betterworldbooks. Dropped off another bag yesterday and I gotta say,  it feels good to get organized.

 

Hope you all have a great weekend! Happy reading! 

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