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review 2018-01-23 15:57
You Won't Know I'm Gone (The Black Angel Chronicles) - Kristen Orlando

I had been wanting to read the first book, You Don’t Know My Name, since I heard about it prior to release last year. So when I saw the announcement for this tour, I figured I’d try to participate so I could have “an excuse” to begin the series. This YA spy thriller series hasn’t gotten quite as much exposure as others, for some reason, so I admit I was blown away at just how good the first book was. You don’t usually get to feel so many emotions when reading a thriller, but boy, mine ran the gamut: from laughter to nail-biting anticipation to flat-out sobbing. Yes, that’s right, Ms. Orlando holds absolutely nothing back! I mean, the way the first book ended… I was bawling, I really was. You Don’t Know My Name was an easy book to rate for me, definitely a 5-star read. I couldn’t put it down, but it was much more than “just” a thriller, if that makes sense.


So, why did I rate You Won’t Know I’m Gone four stars instead of five? Well, the only reason is that it is - as is typical with the second in a trilogy - very much a bridge book. I mean, a lot happened and I still ran the gamut of emotions, but probably 90% of the book takes place in one site. It’s not a huge deal, it’s just not quite as exciting as the frenetic pace and site-hopping of book one. However, there’s still a lot of action and excitement, so never fear! I have to say, I really appreciated that Reagan actually suffered consequences for the things she does. As with the ability to kill off main characters, the author doesn’t hold back on having Reagan actually have to pay, one way or another, for her impetuosity. This is not one of those books where the MC breaks pretty much every rule there is yet always gets away with it and gets ahead! That doesn’t mean that Reagan follows all the rules in the second book, though, no sir! But the author really uses her actions as teaching moments, as part of growing up and pushing the boundaries. I applaud Ms. Orlando for giving Reagan a strong personality and having her pay for the consequences of her actions.


The thing that I connected with so much in this book, though, is Reagan’s struggle with grief. I don’t have any idea if the author has suffered through the loss of someone dear to her or not, but if she hasn’t, then she is an absolute master at making me believe she has. I could relate to everything that Reagan felt in the aftermath of her mother’s death. At the risk of getting too heavy in this review, I wanted to make sure that I convey to Ms. Orlando that her handling of this topic is truly masterful. I happened to be reading this book just prior to the 10th anniversary of my sister’s death, and it’s possible that the struggle Reagan goes through connected more closely because of that; maybe it won’t be quite so impactful for others. But it was authentic and raw and felt absolutely real to me. I lost my sister to domestic violence, so it was a similar kind of death as we saw with Reagan’s mother - violent, traumatic, and completely unexpected. And everything she talks about feeling was something that I have felt, both in the immediate aftermath of my sister’s death and in the 10 years since. Even though this is not an “issues” book or a heavy contemporary, the characters go through some real life sh*t and respond in ways that are true to my own experiences. Ms. Orlando skillfully handles what Reagan faces with honesty and truth. 


Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, and I can’t wait to read the third book! I feel so close to these characters now, and even though I don’t agree with everything Reagan does (not by a long shot!), I really respect the way Ms. Orlando has told the story. It’s thrilling and nail-biting, but also emotional and real. Brava!


Rating: 4 stars!


**Disclosure: I received an e-ARC of this book for purposes of taking part in this blog tour. This voluntary review reflects my honest reactions to the book.

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review 2018-01-23 02:25
Black Panther Soul of a Machine Series 1-8
Black Panther: Soul Of A Machine (2017) #3 - Ariel Olivetti,J.A. Giles,Chuck Brown

This is an 8 short issue series via Kindle, where it is free.  Each issue is about 8-10 pages, so the whole series is about 80 pages.  It is still free for kindle.  The artist depends on the issue, but overall the art is good; no issue has bad artwork.


                The central plot is an attempt by Machineswift to take over the world via a tech conference and Wakanda.  While Black Panther plays a crucial role in a few of the early issues as well as the concluding issues, the focus is on what is basically an international geek squad – which includes Wakandans, but also various others so it is a true global incentive.


                The emphasis is on battling with intelligence – it isn’t Hulk Smash, but coming up with a solution to a problem.  This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a bit of a battle, there is, but the geeks are the true heroes.


                Furthermore, the series makes excellent use of Shuri, who, quite I find to be the more interesting of the siblings.  There are plenty of women as well as men, both genders shown to be fighters and scientists.

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review 2018-01-23 02:20
Good Quick Read
Misadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures series, Book 4) - Shayla Black

Carson Frost is still adjusting to owning a successful confectionary. To get it out of debt and back to making millions, he’s agreed to marry the daughter of a competitor. Unfortunately, he and his competitor’s daughter have nothing in common and no attraction. When he comes up with the idea of hiring a bride to strike a new deal, he didn’t encounter his feelings taking part.

This was a pretty good story. The insta-attraction was well enough written that I felt it worked with this story and fell in with the time-frame of the story. My only problem was that it was somewhat hard to buy Ella’s quick feelings when she repeatedly showed a lack of trust and faith in people. Overall though, I did enjoy the book.

**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book

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text 2018-01-21 23:10
Reading progress update: I've read 3 out of 240 pages.
Black Panther: Panther's Quest - Jon McGregor,Gene Colan

Don McGregor and Gene Colan teamed up, years ago, to create those two Nathaniel Dusk mini-series I love so much (plus some Detectives, Inc.); when I spotted this graphic novel while browsing for Black Panther material I might want to geek out on before the film's release, I knew it was for me. so thrilled!

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text 2018-01-20 19:19
2017 Year in Review: Stats
Shadowhouse Fall - Daniel José Older
Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee
A Conspiracy in Belgravia (The Lady Sherlock Series) - Sherry Thomas
Food of the Gods: A Rupert Wong Novel - Cassandra Khaw
The Ballad of Black Tom - Victor LaValle
The Stars Are Legion - Kameron Hurley
The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan
An Extraordinary Union - Alyssa Cole
The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) - N.K. Jemisin
Clean Room Vol. 3: Waiting for the Stars to Fall - Gail Simone,Jon Davis-Hunt
Did anyone else end up with a broken counter on the Goodreads stats page? I know they had an issue with the date read field earlier in the year. While that eventually worked itself out, my total for 2017 is way off. The states page claims over 100, but the list is really only 79.
My breakdown of the 79 "books" I finished in 2017:

anthologies: 0
collections: 0
Adult novels: 50
YA novels: 8
MG novels: 0
graphic novels: 1
art book: 0
comic omnibus: 15
magazine issues: 0
children's books: 2
nonfiction: 3
I make a demographics list every year as a way of giving myself the opportunity to think about who I've read and how I can do better.
Across all categories:
  Written by Women: 53 (67%, down from 72% in 2016)
  Written by POC: 29 (37%, up from 17% in 2016)
  Written by Transgender authors: 5 (6%, up from 1% in 2016) 
  Written by Non-binary authors: 2 (3%, up from 1% in 2016)
While this looks like a large improvement from last year, I should note that this is not unique authors, but total across all my reading. I went on Cassandra Khaw and Daniel José Older benders this fall that account for a lot of my non-white reading. I also went on a Courtney Milan bender in January that is helping inflate the written by women category. 
My favorite book from 2017 were really hard to select! It was a great reading year, but I narrowed it down to 10. Please don't ask me to order them as that's clearly an impossible task. They should all appear in the banner at the top, but here's a list, alphabetically:
I reviewed all 79 titles read in 2017, which is really more than I expected. Not all those reviews are great, but in terms of quantity, I beat my expectations. 
My favorite new-to-me author of 2017 is Cassandra Khaw. She's talented and her range includes (nay, celebrates!) splatterpunk. 
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