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text 2020-01-01 18:15
December Books

I had a ridiculously good reading month in December. I read 33 books with an average of 4.06. 3 books were graphic novels and 20 were YA. My most-read genres were contemporary, fantasy, and romance.

 

I'm not sure what my favorite book was. I really read a lot of excellent books this month, so it's hard to choose between them. Maybe The Bride Was a Boy - Chii or The Queen of Nothing - Holly Black. But really any of my books in the 5 star section were excellent.

 

My least favorite book is much easier to pick. It's Dead Ever After - Charlaine Harris. It was a disappointing end to the series.

 

 

5 Stars

The Queen of Nothing - Holly Black A Very Large Expanse of Sea - Tehereh Mafi Eloquent Rage - Brittney Cooper  What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape - Sohaila Abdulali The Bride Was a Boy - Chii Know My Name: A Memoir - Chanel Miller  

We Are the Perfect Girl - Ariel Kaplan  Sick Kids in Love - Hannah Moskowitz 

 

4.5 Stars

Deadly Little Scandals - Jennifer Lynn Barnes Full Disclosure - Camryn Garrett  Technically, You Started It - Lana Wood Johnson  Serpent & Dove - Shelby Mahurin  The Water Dragon's Bride, Vol. 1 - Rei Toma  Emmy & Oliver - Robin Benway  

 

4 Stars

Wilder Girls - Rory Power The lost sisters - Holly Black One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva  The Other F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce - Angie Manfredi  A Thousand Beginnings and Endings - Preeti Chhibber,Roshani Chokshi,Alyssa Wong,Aisha Saeed,Melissa de la Cruz,Sona Charaipotra,Elsie Chapman,Renee Ahdieh,Rahul Kanakia,Julie Kagawa,Shveta Thakrar,Aliette de Bodard,Cindy Gerard,Lori Foster,David G. Myers,Ellen Datlow  The Best Lies - Sarah Lyu  

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen - Jose Antonio Vargas  Can't Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #3.5) - Alyssa Cole  Dear Rachel Maddow - Adrienne Kisner  

 

3.5 Stars

Mooncakes - Suzanne Walker,Wendy Xu The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry - Jon Ronson  Once Ghosted, Twice Shy (Reluctant Royals #2.5) - Alyssa Cole  How the Dukes Stole Christmas: A Holiday Romance Anthology - Sophie Jordan,Sarah MacLean,Tessa Dare,Joanna Shupe  

 

3 Stars

The Last 8 (The Last 8 #1) - Laura Pohl  The Beautiful - Renee Ahdieh  Supernova - Marissa Meyer  By Any Means Necessary - Candice Montgomery  This Lie Will Kill You - Chelsea Pitcher  

 

2 Stars

Dead Ever After - Charlaine Harris 

 

 

 

 

Books by author gender:

  • Male: 3
  • Female: 28
  • Male/Female/Nonbinary Mix: 1
  • Male/Female Mix: 1

 

Books by format:

  • Physical: 8
  • Audio: 25

 

 

 

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review 2019-12-20 20:22
A Game of Thrones / George R.R. Martin
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

 

What a pleasure to read! GRRM writes fabulous fantasy. I can see why this was turned into a TV series--the world is so well realized. I could easily picture it in my mind’s eye. Yes, it’s a violent, dark world, but there are also moments of kindness and compassion. Martin’s female characters have to live within the bounds of this very medieval society that he has created, but they find creative ways to achieve agency and to become formidable in their own right.

The boundaries between good and evil are muddy in GoT. I found myself cheering for people on both sides of the battles. For example, I love both Catelyn and Tyrion. I also have to admit that I love any fantasy world that includes dire wolves and mammoths. I’m hoping that there will be more prehistoric animal action in upcoming books.

Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but the Stark’s motto, Winter is Coming, really speaks to me. I could feel the chill of standing on the great North wall, looking out into the wilderness and wondering what was out there in the dark and the cold.

It has taken me a long time to start this series, but I look forward to continuing with it in 2020. I’m interested in every character introduced thus far--I realize that Martin is famous for killing off his characters, but I’ll take what I can get!

Book number 345 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-12-09 22:00
The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues / Harry Harrison
The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues - Harry Harrison

The 25th century's most outrageous outlaw is back. When a heist goes terribly wrong, Slippery Jim DiGriz, thief, conman, is allowed to cut a deal with the Galactic League. In return for his life, he must rerieve an alien artifact from a crazed prison planet.

 

I’m glad that it has been a while since I last read a Stainless Steel Rat book. They are best consumed with considerable space between them, otherwise the sameness of the adventures and the humour becomes a drag.

But there are a few treats in store in each book. In this one, Slippery Jim must visit a prison planet to find a stolen archeological artifact, undercover as part of a band. Their first encounter with unwashed nomads sends up organized religion. Next, they encounter a society where men and women live separately, a comic rewrite of Sheri Tepper’s The Gate to Women's Country. Most of the men don’t even know that women exist, giving Harrison the chance to thumb his nose at the whole Iron John: A Book About Men concept and the men’s movement.

These are short and that’s a good thing. Especially as I have two more of them on the horizon for 2020!

Book number 341 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-12-09 21:57
The Death of Chaos / L.E. Modesitt
The Death of Chaos (saga of recluce Book 5) - L.E. Modesitt Jr.

Lerris has settled down as a carpenter in Kyphros, where his wife, Krystal, is the sub-commander of the autarch's military forces. His fellow apprentice from Recluce, Tamra, now travels with the Gray Wizard Justen. Justen is over two hundred years old and is the wizard who destroyed the White Empire and the city of Fairhaven (as chronicled in The Order War), though at great cost. But the whole world is in turmoil, not only from friction between the island of Recluce and the continent of Candar, but now the distant Empire of Hamor has sent invading forces across the ocean, as they have twice in the historic past - and this time they mean to conquer the world. Gradually, but ever more deeply, Lerris is drawn back into action and forced to exercise and strengthen his magical powers to become the greatest wizard of all time - or see his whole world destroyed. The Death of Chaos is the culmination of the saga of Recluce thus far.

 

What can I say about this installment in the Saga of Recluce? These books are so, so similar in tone that they kind of blend together in my memory. In this volume, we return to the story of Lerris, whom we met in the first book. Lerris is apparently the strong, silent type and he is frustrating to his consort, Crystal, who wishes he would tell her more about what’s going on in his brain. Crystal is obviously young, as we older women care much less about this particular issue. Crystal also wishes that Lerris would quit going off and getting himself nearly killed in the fight against Chaos. This is a more legitimate concern, but I still found Crystal a bit hypocritical on this issue, as she and the Autarch would immediately summon Lerris whenever the going got the slightest bit tough! I try not to criticize people for doing what I ask them to do!

Whatever is wrong with Lerris, it runs in his family. They are gathered together to fight this war and basically grunt at each other and still refuse to tell each other useful details of how to use order and chaos without destroying everything. Lerris and Crystal end up with a magical link which lets each one know what’s going on with the other person. A fate worse than death, in my opinion! But they asked for it!

An awful lot of time is spent describing the incredibly repetitive meals that these people eat. Honestly, they eat so much cheese that they should be hideously constipated at all times. If an author is going to detail every meal, at least those details should be interesting and maybe make the reader wish that they could try some of the specialities. I come away from these books thankful that I don’t have to stay there for dinner.

Book number 340 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-12-09 21:55
Crown of Shadows / C.S. Friedman
Crown of Shadows - C.S. Friedman

For more than a millennium now Erna’s humans have maintained an uneasy stalemate with the fae, that treacherous force of nature which feeds on the human psyche.  Adepts and sorcerers work the fae for their own profit, while the demonic creatures who feed upon such efforts rapidly gain in power and ambition. Now one of these demons, a Iezu called Calesta, has declared war on all of mankind.
 
Master of illusion, devourer of pain, he plans to remake the human species until mankind exists only to sate his unquenchable thirst for suffering, and omens of his triumph are already apparent.
 
Only Damien Vryce, warrior-priest of the One God, and his unlikely ally, the undead sorcerer Gerald Tararnt stand between Calesta and his triumph.  Nothing short of the demon’s absolute destruction will save mankind from his unholy influence. But no one on Erna is certain just what the Iezu really are and no man has ever succeeded in killing one.
 
Faced with an enemy who may prove invulnerable, Damien and Tarrant must risk everything in a war that will take them from the depths of Hell to the birthplace of demons and beyond—in a battle which could cost them not only their lives, but the very soul of all mankind.

 

A good ending to a very dark fantasy trilogy. Damien Vryce must come to terms with his role in the Church--running around with its demonic founder, Gerald Tarrant, has damaged his reputation and made the Holy Father very, very angry. Apparently saving humankind on the planet Erna does not give him special dispensation to associate with the Hunter. What did amaze me was that after his visit to Hell to rescue his demonic pal, Vryce continues to bellyache about conditions all along the way as they sought to confront the demon Calesta.

Counterpoint to Vryce is the Hunter’s last remaining human descendant, Andrys Tarrant, who is in Calesta’s thrawl and is well on the way to addling himself through drugs and alcohol. The Holy Father recruits him too and becomes similarly disenchanted with this substance dependent pretty boy.

I am a fan of the ambiguous ending, which made me very happy with Friedman’s conclusion to this book. The ending also explained to me the image that Michael Whelan painted for the cover. Who is this pretty boy in black leather pants, wielding a cold-fire sword, swishing his duster suggestively? You’ll find out in those final pages!

Book number 339 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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