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review 2019-12-09 21:52
The Guinevere Deception / Kiersten White
The Guinevere Deception - Kiersten White

There was nothing in the world as magical and terrifying as a girl.

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom's borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution--send in Guinevere to be Arthur's wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king's idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere's real name--and her true identity--is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old--including Arthur's own family--demand things continue as they have been, and the new--those drawn by the dream of Camelot--fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur's knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

 

An excellent re-invention of the King Arthur mythos. Taking a cue from The Mists of Avalon, this version is told from the perspective of Guinevere, a changeling girl sent by Merlin to be King Arthur’s bride.

The big problem is that magic has been banished from Camelot and Guinevere is a manic pixie dream girl! She is looking at the relationship like a job and Arthur is willing to humour her, but as they spend more and more time together, both of them start to think that perhaps they would like to expand that role….now how do they let their desires be known?

White uses some interesting changes in relationships (Mordred isn’t Arthur’s illegitimate son) and some wonderful changes in gender of at least one character to make this a very up-to-date feeling version of the Arthur cycle. By doing so, she freshens up a story that most of us feel that we’re pretty familiar with.

I can hardly wait for the next installment in 2020

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review 2019-12-09 21:50
Alvin Journeyman / Orson Scott Card
Alvin Journeyman - Orson Scott Card

Alvin Miller, a gifted seventh son of a seventh son, utilizes his skills as a Maker to help create a brighter future for America, but his task is further challenged by his ancient enemy, the Unmaker, who plots to end Alvin's life.

 

This is such a weird alternate history series! Welcome to a North America that has been torqued into a strange shape by this author. The race relations have a really odd feel, with Indigenous people retreated to an area beyond a river and a mysterious bank of cloud which prevents Caucasians from visiting them. Black people’s lives are more similar to actual history, with slaves, slave finders, and free people of colour (who nonetheless face discrimination).

The most obvious theme in this installment is that of Cain and Abel, two brothers at odds with one another. In this case, it’s Calvin and Alvin, with Calvin resenting his older brother so much that he elects to leave their community and seek his own position in the world. Unfortunately, he has an undeservedly high opinion of himself and a nasty disposition. Why be kind when you can blackmail, amiright? (Wikipedia helpfully tells me that Cain's name means "smith" and resembles the verb 'to make' in Hebrew, perhaps significant as both Alvin and Calvin are Makers and Alvin is a smith?)

Although it doesn’t happen in this volume, Calvin has obviously decided to make Alvin’s life difficult. No doubt that will happen in the next book.

Book number 337 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-12-09 21:48
City of Golden Shadow / Tad Williams
City of Golden Shadow - Tad Williams

Renie Sulaweyo, a teacher in the South Africa of tomorrow, realizes something is wrong on the network. Kids, including her brother Stephen, have logged into the net, and cannot escape. Clues point to a mysterious golden city called Otherland, but investigators all end up dead.

 

My previous experience with Williams’ writing was his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, so this book was a bit of a shock to the system! While that series took place in a rather mediaeval setting, this one is set in the future and largely in virtual reality.

One thing that remains consistent is the size of each book, being rather brick-like. It took my about 170 pages before I was convinced that I really wanted to read this volume. It reminded me of a lot of books that I’ve read before. The little vignettes at the beginning of each chapter made me think of Stand on Zanzibar. All the virtual environments were reminiscent of Neuromancer and as characters plugged things into their bodies, I thought of When Gravity Fails. The time spent in Eight Squared (a chess board), complete with a Red Queen threatening “Off with their heads” was obviously referencing Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The emphasis on Egyptian mythology also reminded me of The Anubis Gates. The guy without a memory running through the virtual word made me think of The Bourne Identity. Early in the book, our amnesiac man has a “Jack and the Bean Stalk” adventure too.

This is another conspiracy-theory heavy story. I seem to have run into several of those lately. I’m relieved that I finally found my footing around the 200 page mark, as there are three more books in the series and on my reading list. They may still end up being tough sledding, but at least I have a bit of hope!

Book number 336 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-12-09 21:46
Brightness Reef / David Brin
Brightness Reef - David Brin

The planet Jijo is forbidden to settlers, its ecology protected by guardians of the Five Galaxies.  But over the centuries it has been resettled, populated by refugees of six intelligent races.  Together they have woven a new society in the wilderness, drawn together by their fear of Judgment Day, when the Five Galaxies will discover their illegal colony.  Then a strange starship arrives on Jijo.  Does it bring the long-dreaded judgment, or worse--a band of criminals willing to destroy the six races of Jijo in order to cover their own crimes? 

 

I enjoyed this adventure in the Uplift universe, even though I had to wonder sometimes just what was going on. In an environment where Uplift is a desirable thing, who would choose to sneak onto a forbidden planet and attempt to divest themselves of all the trappings of permanent civilization? And not just one “sneakship,” but half a dozen different races are on Jijo to “return to Eden.” It’s a regular back-to-the-land movement.

There are a lot of moving parts--plenty of plots and counter-plots, conspiracies, and back stabbing, enough to keep any conspiracy theorist highly entertained. I also enjoyed a lot of the linguistic play. For instance, several species of plants known as Boo. Seeming derived from the word bamboo, Brin gives us greater boo, among others.

With the languages of the alien species, this would be a nasty book to try to read aloud. I pity anyone performing the audio book!

The previous books in the Uplift series were each self-contained stories, but this one leaves many questions unanswered. I’m glad I have the second volume queued up and ready to go.

Book number 335 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2019-12-03 03:51
November Books

I read 36 books this month with an average score of 3.53. 8 were graphic novels and 19 were YA. My most-read genres were contemporary, romance, and sci-fi.

 

My favorite book was She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement - Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey. The work put into breaking the Harvey Weinstein story was impressive to read about.

 

My least favorite book was Watch Us Rise - Renée Watson. That was one of my most-anticipated reads for 2019, so it was especially disappointing to have one of the main characters spouting off TERF rhetoric at the end of the book and give off a sense of being "not like other girls" throughout the entire thing.

 

 

5 Stars

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement - Jodi Kantor,Megan Twohey  The Witches Are Coming - Lindy West  

 

4.5 Stars

Well Met - Jen DeLuca  Fruits Basket Another Vol. 1 (Fruits Basket Another #1) - Natsuki Takaya  Ninth House - Leigh Bardugo  

 

4 Stars

With the Fire on High - Elizabeth Acevedo  Black Canary: Ignite - Meg Cabot,Cara McGee  Wild and Crooked - Leah Thomas  Ayesha At Last - Uzma Jalaluddin  Broken Things - Lauren Oliver  Fan the Fame - Anna Priemaza  

American Panda - Gloria Chao  That's Not What I Heard - Stephanie Kate Strohm  Always Never Yours - Austin Siegemund-Broka,Emily Wibberley  How to Be an Antiracist - Ibram X. Kendi  

 

3.5 Stars

Swipe Right For Murder - Derek Milman  Nyxia - Scott Reintgen  Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis - Gail Simone,Jason Wright,J. Calafiore  Domino, Vol. 2: Soldier of Fortune - Fabian Nicieza,Gail Simone,Leonard Kirk,Michael Shelfer,Carlos Lopez,Victor Olazaba,Guru Efx,Victor Ibañez,David Baldeón,Natacha Bustos,Jay David Ramos,Ed Tadeo,Alberto Alburquerque,Juan Gedeon,Leah Williams,Dennis 'Hopeless' Hallum,Jesus Aburton,Roberto  Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Lost Stars - Claudia Gray,Phil Noto  Warrior of the Wild - Tricia Levenseller  

Twice in a Blue Moon - Christina Lauren  Nyxia Uprising - Scott Reintgen  

 

3 Stars

Truly Madly Royally - Debbie Rigaud I’m Not Dying With You Tonight - Gilly Segal,Kimberly Jones  Nyxia Unleashed - Scott Reintgen  Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris  Crazy House - James Patterson,Gabrielle Charbonnet  Hungry for You: Endo Yasuko Stalks the Night, Vol. 1 - Flowerchild  

Alienated - Melissa Landers  Royal Holiday - Jasmine Guillory  

 

2.5 Stars

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe - Dalibor Talajić,Cullen Bunn  Dreamin' Sun, Vol. 1 - Ichigo Takano  I Wish You All the Best - Mason Deaver  

 

2 Stars

Super Sons: The Foxglove Mission - Ridley Pearson,Ile Gonzalez Watch Us Rise - Renée Watson 

 

 

 

 

Books by author gender:

  • Male: 7
  • Female: 26
  • Nonbinary: 1
  • Male/Female Mix: 2

 

Books by format:

  • Physical: 20
  • Audio: 16

 

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