Children of Blood and Bone by: Tomi Adeyemi

Summary:

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy. 

The Review:

This was another of one of my anticipated reads for 2018, ever since this book was announced. You don”t really see a lot of fantasy novels set in Africa, unless you read N.K. Jemison and Nnedi Okorafor. I also believe that the hype is definitely well deserved for this book.

The books setting is mainly in West Africa in a Orisha. A place in which magic was been suppressed and the maji, has been killed by a ruthless king. Zeile, is a young maji, whose mother was killed in the raids of the king, and her death was to serve as a reminder for the maji.

The world building was extremely well done. You get a sense of the world it is set, and the history within that world. Different clans has their own maji title and deity, for example the Iku clan are reapers who deal with souls and worship the Oya. Also tied within the world building is a sense of history, learning that long ago the maji were seen as corrupt so there was a reason why the king decided to eliminate the maji. With its world building it didn’t feel like info dumping like most books does and it brought up a lot through conversations that the characters had with one another.

The book also has 3 POVs, Zeile, who is the main character, whose mother was a powerful maji. Amari, the daughter of the king who flees from her ruthless father after he does something that traumatizes her. Inan who is the prince and next in line to become king who is tasked to bring back Amari.

Inan is one my favorite of the POVs. His POV chapters deals a lot with his inner struggle of basically if he should do what he is tasked to do, especially when dealing with his father.

The story mainly deals with Zeile and Amari trying to bring back magic to Orishi by bringing an ancient scroll to the temple, and would deal with teh world around them. While it does seem like a cliche, the world is so magnificent and throughout their journey you get a good scope of the world and its magic system, along with its politics. A lot of the book could serve as a racial allegory dealing with oppression, especially dealing with a light skinned vs. dark skinned context.

There is also a romance in the book. Mainly between Zeile and Inan, and Amari and Tzain. I did like that it wasn’t the forefront of the book, and both romances I felt was actually developed. With Zeile and Inan, you constantly see Inan dealing with his inner turmoil. It did lead to a few funny moments with both of them wondering if they should actually kiss each other. It was a nice twist on the enemy to lovers trope.

In the end, this book definitely lives up to the hype. It was a great book that had an amazing story especially with a YA fantasy set in West Africa. It features a good magic system and excellent world building. The characters are extremely well developed and I cannot wait to see how this series continues, because it was that good.

Grade: 5/5

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Top 5 Wednesday: Autobuy SFF Authors

Happy Wednesday everyone, and here is another Top 5 Wendnesday and the topic is:

April 11: Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors – Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic! 
— This month’s crossover topic is your auto-buy authors that write SFF.

Top 5 Wednesday is a group in Goodreads and was formerly created by Lainey at gingerreadslainey and is now done by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. It is open to everyone.

VE Schwab

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Author of great books such as Vicious, This Savage Song, and Shade of Magic series. I have a read most of the books she has published, but I need to read A Conjuring of Light. I am also very excited for the sequel to Vicious, which is Vengeful. Her worlds are magnificent, the characters are engaging and well developed, and her stories are amazing.

Marie Lu

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She wrote the Legend trilogy which was amazing. The Young Elites trilogy which I really liked. Warcross was one of my favorite books of last year, and she wrote Batman Nightwalker, which I loved. I love that she is willing to write different genres and go from dystopia, to high fantasy and futuristic Sci Fi. I am very excited for Wildcard this year.

Leigh Bardugo

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While I did enjoy Shadow and Bone, my main reason for loving Leigh Bardugo, was the Six of Crows duology. The characters, the worlds and the story, drew me in. While I am disappointed that I won’t see those characters again I am excited to read what she has written.

Cindy Pon

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She is, in my opinion a very underrated author. I loved the Serpentine duo-logy, especially with the use of Chinese mythology into a fantasy world. I loved Want, which was another favorite book that I read last year. I loved all of the characters she has written and I can’t want for the sequel to Want,

Marissa Meyer

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For those who have been following blog for a long time,should know how much I love the Lunar Chronicles. Sci Fi retellings mixed with fairy tales are my jam. I loved Heartless which was a stand alone retelling of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. I also loved Renegades which dealt with the superhero genre. Her characters are amazing and I am excited for Archenemies.

Honorable Mentions: Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman, Megan Spooner, Holly Black, Susan Dennard, Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, Cinda Williams Chima

Those are my SFF auto buy authors. Who are your SFF auto buy authors? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Obsidio by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Summary:

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? 

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

The Review:

If you have been following my blog, you should know that this book, Obsidio was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018.

Obsidio, sort of picks up right where Gemina ended, in which Nik and Hannah escape the Heimdall and meet up with Ezra and Kady on the Mao with the refugees. From the beginning I love the interactions between those characters , especially with how Gemina ended seeing them all come together and work together has a definite highlight of the book. Even with some new characters introduced they still were able to have some great development.

Than we are introduced To Asha (Kady’s cousin) and Rhys, a soldier for BeiTech. I was a little concerned that we are introduced to new characters especially for this being the final book. But they are fully fleshed with the time they have in the book. With the character of Rhys, we get a lot of background with the Beitech soldiers and their operations. Asha just sort of got caught up during her internship in the conflict with Beitech. Even though she does not have the skills that Kady and Hannah had, she does have a good heart which helped on Kerenza.

Than there is AIDAN. Oh, AIDAN, never have I seen such great character development for an AI. You really get a sense of his moral conflict and wondering if what he is doing is right.

The book still has the format of being seen through IMs and chats. But I still love the surveillance summary, The narrator is always just so snarky and kind of breaks the forth wall.

Obsidio, as a final book of a trilogy, and really lets it be known that. For a final book, everything is going down and it sort of ends in a nice giant space battle, perfect for an ending.

In the end, Obsidio is everything I wanted a final book to be. It was paced really well, action packed and managed to give us a great ending. I am very sad to let these characters go, but I am glad that I read it.

Grade: 5/5

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.
When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves? 

The Review:

This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, mainly because I really loved Geekerella so much, and also the possibility of an Anastasia retelling in SPAACEEE, would also get me excited.

Yes, the story is an Anastasia retelling set in space, and it almost follows some of the same beats as the story of Anastasia, mainly about a lost princess, who is of course our main protagonist, but she doesn’t know it yet.

Ana is a great protagonist, she spent most of her life living in space with her Captain who found her, while in space. She is someone that always wants to know about her past, and where she came from.

Than there is D09, or Di who is a robot, and is honestly one of my favorite robot characters that I have read. While yes, he is a robot, he does have a lot of personality. It also helps that there is a lot of chapters, told through his point of view. The relationship between Ana and Di was amazing, and was shipping them the whole way through.

There is also Robb, who is another POV character. He is an heir, or rather the youngest heir to the throne. He is trying to figure out what happened to his father who was supposedly killed during the rebellion, and he trying to find out what really happened. He is a great prince-like character, and a lot of his POV chapters dealt a lot with his family and making sure that his brothers don’t take over and become ruler.

Jax, is the ships main pilot, and he comes from a race, who can see the future with the stars. He is also one of my favorite characters. I love his cooky attitude, and it reminded me a lot of Joker from the Mass Effect series. There is also a romance between Robb and Jax and while it does feature some aspects of insta-love with Robb from the first sight of Jax, wants to kiss him. But they also develop into a couple I would love to root for.

The plot, is basically a retelling of Anastasia, with Ana being delivered to the Grand Duchess, it also involves a semi prophecy that she is a Goddess, who it set to rule.

I felt that the Dossier crew, could have also been a bit more fleshed out, mainly because it has a ton of diverse characters to them, and I always love a sort ragtag crew set in space.

I liked learning about how the Iron Kingdom is set up, especially with how they deal with Metals, or robots, who are seen as inferior with the HIVE threat.

I also thought the villain reveal was a bit too obvious, especially as someone who has watched the movie Anastasia could figure out, but I did like how his motivation was revealed.

In the end, Heart of Iron was a great read and a real page turner. While it was a retelling, Ashley Poston did add a lot of new twists to the story. The characters were all very engaging and I want to see what happens next for our characters.

Grade: 4/5

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

Summary:

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she’s just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder’s all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi’s past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their shipor just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

The Review:

This was another anticipated read of mine. I have been following Sasha’s journey with the book for quite a few years, with her drafting and editing this book along with Lindsay Cummings.

I really liked the setting of this book, how it is set in the far reaches of the galaxy, with a ton of different species living within the galaxy. It really reminded me a lot of Mass Effect in a way, in which the crew of the Normandy are a diverse set of people and aliens.

Androma or Andi, is a mercenary and basically a hired gun. She made a reputation of being one across the galaxy. She reminded me a lot of Cealena from Throne of Glass, except that she is in space. She also has an all female crew, who also remind me a bit of Mass Effect, and also the crew of Serenity. I like that each of the crew members all were very distinct in their own way.

Among the travels of the crew of the Marauder, they come across Dex, a bounty hunter who had a past with Andi. While the Dex and Andi relationship if you can call it that, was kinda of the cliched, lovers to enemies back to lovers again. But I think the way that the characters were framed, it was able to sort of overcome that trope. Dex is almost the Captain Reynolds type, who is very cocky in what he does and also the banter between Dex and Andi was always fun to read.

Lira, was another character from the Marauder crew, who had some chapters with her POV.  I though she was one of my favorite characters. and I thought she had a really good arc in the book. While I won’t give too much away, it has a lot to do with her past and present.

The main plot of this book, is sort of a redemption arc for Andi. She was a former Spectre for the Unified Systems, but after something happens she is forced to space piracy. Her main mission is to break the son, of a general out of prison. It feels straight out of Mass Effect, with sometimes Andi and Dex choosing the Renegade option.

The mission also ties into a lot into a conflict that affects the galaxy. This is also one of the few books I read that sort of has a villain POV chapter, along with a few origin chapters tied within the novel, which while it may feel like the Manon chapters in the Throne of Glass series it does lead into something.

In the end, Zenith was a great book. It had everything I wanted in a nice space opera, with great characters and a nice story. It also has a pretty good twist, that I will dare give away. I am very excited to see how this ends.

Grade: 4/5

Renegades by: Marissa Meyer

Summary:

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

The Review:

If you have been following my blog you should know that I am a HUGE fan of the Lunar Chronicles, so of course I was very excited about the fact that Marissa Meyer is writing a new series, and this was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017.

The book is mainly told through two POVs, Nova or Nightmare; she has the power to put people to sleep just by touching them. After her family was killed, she always has had disdain for the Renegades because she felt that they didn’t save them. She was a well developed character, she really did bring out a lot of the moral grayness with bringing out the differences between the Renegades and the Anarchists.

Adrian or Sketch, has the power to bring his artwork to life. His mother was killed in the battle of Gatlin and was adopted by two other superheros who are on the council. He also has an arc that deals with trying to get justice for his mother. He deals with a lot of pressure as being the son of two famous superheroes and he always wants to be more than a patrol hero and do some real work as a Renegade. He also deals with some of the issues that the Renegades deal with.

The relationship between both Adrian and Nova was also really fleshed out. It was basically a hero and a villain falling in love but they don’t know who each other are. It added some depth to the story and made it seem like both sides have good points. It reminded me a lot of the X-Men comics, mainly the X-Men vs. The Brotherhood. Both are contentiously combating each other but also has great points.

The world building was very well done. Marissa Meyer introduced us to a world where superheroes are already established in world and they are called Renegades, who are those with powers. I also felt that there was some back story I actually wanted to see more fleshed out. Mainly the Age of Anarchy and the Battle of Gatlin, I feel that could have been a series of books on their own.

The supporting characters were good as well, mainly the group of Anarchists who work with Nova. They had their own distinct personalities to them. I just wish they were a bit more fleshed out. Hopefully the second book will do that. I also felt the villain was a little thinly developed, mainly because Queen Levena was such a great villain I kinds wish the villain was on that level.

The ending I also felt was a tad rushed. I know the book was over 500 pages but I would have liked the ending could have also been a bit more fleshed out and hopefully a sequel will better continue the story.

In the end, Renegades did not disappoint. Marissa Meyer wrote another great book and she wasn’t afraid to explore other genres. Nova and Adrian are great characters, and the world involving superheroes was great. While I felt the ending could have been fleshed out, I want to see the story continue.

Grade: 4.3/5

Invictus by: Ryan Graudin

Summary:

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

The Review:

This book had me at “the crew of Firfely entering the TARDIS” and it really felt like that throughout the story. Earlier this year I read Ryan Graudin’s Wolf-by-Wolf, which is an alternative take of WWII. This deals with the concept of time-travel, with a lot of wibley-woobly timey wimey stuff.

Farway, or Far, is someone who was born “outside of time”, in which he was born within a time stream and doesn’t have a specific birthday, this was mainly due to his mother having a relationship with a Roman gladiator in 95 AD, she gave birth outside of time and defying the laws of nature. Years later he is pursuing a career in time travel, but during his final exam, it gets hacked and he fails the exam and expelled for the Academy.

Far is a great main character. He sort of had a Malcolm Reynolds vibe to him, throughout the story, and always wanted to get the job done. He also cares a lot about his crew on the Invictus, but he also deals with the fact that his mother disappeared on her own time travel mission on the Ab Aeterno.

The crew of the Invictus all have very distinct personalities which reminded me a lot of Firefly. Priya, who is Far’s girlfriend acts as the ships doctor. The relationship between Priya and Far was extremely well done and you can tell from the text that they actually care about each other. She is also fully fleshed out, and has her character fully realized through a few flashbacks of her time in the Academy.

There is also Imogen, Far’s cousin. She also puts together a lot of the “captains’s log” throughout the story, and a lot of the “captains log” are very humorous. She also has a good relationship with Far and also acts as his confidant.  Throughout the story she also has a crush on Gram, the ships pilot, and it always seems funny how she tries not to act of her crush even though people know about it. While I did like the character Gram, I thought he could have been fleshed out a bit more.

The main plot of the story is the crew planning a heist abroad the Titanic right before it sinks, in order to steal an object. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until they come across Eliot, a mysterious time traveler, who steals the item and will trade it in order to have a spot on the crew.

Eliot, basically serves the Sixth ranger role on the team, and throughout the book there is always a sense of mystery surrounding her character, and you always feel that there is some twist that is about the happen. Once you find out Eliot’s main motivation it actually starts to make sense, and adds a lot to the story.

What made the book great was the concept of time travel. Time travel is always a tricky thing to really pull off, because there are times when it could introduce a lot of plot holes, Ryan Graudin actually provided a good use of time travel through multiverses. I will not go much into detail in case of spoilers, but the idea of multiple universes makes a lot of sense in regards to the story, and sets up a lot of stacks for the story.

Also the world building was really well done as well, especially the world of time travelers. One of my favorite aspects is a clothing store that specializes in different period of clothing when one goes time traveling. So they could get jackets from the 1950s, and dresses from the Victorian era. It also set up rules with time travel in order to not disrupt the timeline.

In the end, Invictus was a really great book that deals with the concept of time travel. Mainly as a Whovian, time travel has always captivated me. The characters make the book such a good read, and I am a little disappointed that it is a stand alone novel, because I could read a series about these characters.

Grade: 4/5