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review 2019-02-06 18:12
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal - My Thoughts
The Calculating Stars - Mary Robinette Kowal

I started this book thinking I was about to read an alternate history about a group of women pioneering space flight on an alternate, historical planet Earth.  What I felt I just read was an autobiography of one of the first women in space.  An AU space, but still... not what I expected.

The story is told from the first person POV of Elma York, who is a mathematician and was a WASP pilot during the war.  World War 2.  She's also married to Nathaniel, who is an engineer and they are both Jewish.  (Although, for some reason - I suspect because of Hidden Figures - I kept thinking of her as black.)  Both of them are very, very smart.  The story begins in alternate 1952 and t the world isn't that much different from reality.

There is an awful lot of Elma becoming more and more aware of racial discrimination against people of colour while being subjected to antisemitism and prejudice against women personally. The latter half of the book is taken up with the beginnings of integration in the International Aerospace Coalition and Elma's learning to deal with her crippling - at times - anxiety as she moves closer to her goal of getting into space.

So, I was somewhat disappointed that I didn't get the story I expected to get when I picked up the book.  BUT, the book was a good read if I look at it as an AU auto-biography.  And because of that, I've added book 2 to the 'want to read' list. 

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review 2018-10-28 01:21
Witchmark by C.L. Polk - My Thoughts
Witchmark (The Kingston Cycle #1) - C. L. Polk

I'm going to be frank.  A big reason I bought this book is because the online advertisements for it that featured the cover were so darned clever! If you haven't seen them, the two figures reflected from the bicycle wheels actually walked!  I tried to find a link, but was unsuccessful.  Anyway, that's one of the reasons.  Other reasons include recs by authors I like and an intriguing book blurb.

So, as Deborah Ross stated in her review on Goodreads, "The setting, very much like England in the throes of national PTSD following the First World War, a magic-yielding aristocracy, a conflicted hero and so forth, are familiar enough to be recognisable, yet integrated into a freshly imagine world."  I think that explains it perfectly.  :)

Just about everything works. There were a few places that I thought could use a bit more editing to make things a bit clearer, and maybe a tweak or two for the pacing, but they're mostly quibbles. The character of Miles is terrific and sympathetic and you can' help but like him. The secondary players - it's written in the 1st person POV so everyone else is a secondary for me - are interesting and possess more than one dimension.  The mysteries of the plot are intriguing and kept me guessing in many cases, and when they didn't, when I guessed what was happening, I kind of felt that maybe I was supposed to.

My one caveat is the whole romance angle.  The book is marketed as a fantasy romance, but it seems to me to be more a fantasy novel, set in an AU of WWI England with an important romantic subplot.  The romance is really far from the main element of this story.  So much so that the light-heartedness that permeated the last pages seemed almost out of place for the rest of the novel.  So beware, if you're looking for a romance-heavy story, I don't think this is it. 

That being said, I cannot WAIT for the next book to come out.  It's coming out in February of 2020 according to both Kobo and Amazon.  On Goodreads, the author has responded to the question by saying summer of 2019.  God only knows.  And not only that, the images for Book Two have as its title Greystar while the text shows it as Stormsong.  Again, your guess is a good as mine.  All I know is that I will be there to read it. :) 

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review 2018-08-19 04:42
A Queen from the North by Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese - My Thoughts
A Queen from the North - Racheline Maltese,Erin McRae
I don't remember who recommended this book to me a couple of months ago, but am I ever glad they did.  It was delightful!

Set in an alternate universe... well, here's a blurb - In a United Kingdom where tensions between the houses of Lancaster and York did not end with the War of the Roses, Lady Amelia Kirkham, grad school reject and youngest daughter of a Northern earl agrees to enter into a marriage of convenience with Arthur, Prince of Wales, a 39-year-old widower with an ailing father. Together, they will either unite England’s North and South for the first time in centuries… or cause the kingdom’s fall.

So, in many ways, it felt like a positive rework of the Charles and Diana courtship (I have issues with the whole Chuck and Di thing.) and that might have bugged me more had I not fallen for the Prince of Wales myself within the first three chapters. *LOL* And in Amelia I actually found a young woman protagonist that I didn't want to throttle. And I liked the way their love story played out. I especially enjoyed the part about Canada, although it seemed to me that making Toronto appear the capital of my country was a bit much. 

What intrigued me the most, I must admit, is the alternate history of the story as well as the faint bits of magical mythology that surround the tale. I went hunting around and found out that the writing duo has begun work on the second book of the series and it seems like the myth and magic might take on a more prominent role. YAY!

So yes, I really enjoyed my read and am eagerly looking forward to the next book.
 
 
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review 2018-03-19 03:49
Jade City by Fonda Lee - My Thoughts
Jade City (The Green Bone Saga) - Fonda Lee

I really have to start putting my thoughts down when I finish my books, not three days later! 

I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would, if I'm honest.  It's The Godfather meets Ninjas and Yakuza clans in a 1950's-ish time and on the Island of Kekon where jade is magical, giving enhanced abilities to some who are known as the Green Bone Warriors. 

I found the first maybe third of the book a little slow, as things got set up and we meet the main players, the Kaul family, as well as the a slew of secondary characters.  It's a typical clan type family, I guess, with the 'retired' grandfather who is having difficulty letting go of his power.  His three grandchildren, Lan, Hilo, Shae and the adopted Anden.  Lan, the eldest, is the new Pillar or head of the No Peak clan, Hilo is the Horn, the second-in-command.  Their sister, Shae, has been away from the island and the clan for a while and has been living without her jade.  Anden, the youngest, about to leave his teen years behind is a senior at the Academy, just about ready to graduate and take his jade as well as his position within the family. 

Once we begin to know all the characters and get somewhat of a handle on them, the story really kicks in.  We're talking murders, assassinations, stolen jade, government scandals, love affairs, clans heading to war and maybe even the total collapse of their island and way of life. 

The world-building is intricate and terrific and the characters, main, secondary and even the walk-ons are deftly drawn.  Once we get into things, the plot moves along quite nicely with twists and turns and surprises along the way.  Some good and some bad.  Some I saw coming, some I did not.

So, yes, this is one of those books where I wish I could write a decent review because I feel like I'm not doing it justice.  It's a terrific book and I can't wait for the second book to come out.

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review 2018-03-05 17:49
Delightful surprise
Einstein's Dreams - Alan Lightman

I love science. I also love learning about scientific theories and the scientists who brought them to light. Initially, I thought Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman was a true account of how Einstein came up with his theory of time (relativity). Instead this collection contains fictionalized diary entries (dream journal style) from 1905. Each dream accounts for a different way to view time and is set up almost as if they take place in alternate realities. Maybe all events are fixed and predetermined so time is meaningless. Or perhaps there's a world where the closer you get to the center of a location the slower you move until you are arrested completely. Do you think there's a place where those living in higher altitudes age slower than those below? I don't even know if I could handle the world where immortality is a given and so you are forced to live and live and live. In between each of the 'diary' entries, Lightman writes about Einstein processing each of these dreams and honing his eventual theory of relativity. [Bonus: Beautiful pen and ink drawings of Berne scattered throughout.] As I said at the beginning, I started off thinking this was going to be a non-fiction biography of sorts but I think I like this even better. If you're looking for a short little dip into the dimensions of time and how they might look based on your reality then you've hit the jackpot. This is the best kind of sci-fi surprise! 9/10

 

What's Up Next: The Killings at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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