Showing posts from May, 2017

Lost Stars (Star Wars, Journey to the Force Awakens)

Lost Stars (Star Wars, Journey to the Force Awakens) Claudia Gray, 2015 Premise: Thane and Ciena grow up together, even though their families couldn't be more different and still be from the same planet. When they join the Imperial Academy, everything will change. I wanted to love this book. I heard nothing but praise for it. "It's a YA in Star Wars; it's great!" Unfortunately, for me, the combination of YA romance and Star Wars novel ended up accentuating the worst of each. To be fair, I quite liked the beginning, which followed the two characters growing up on a planet that is annexed by the Empire during their childhood. The way they didn't understand galactic politics as children felt realistic. They both work hard to enroll in the Imperial training school to get to fly starships. As the characters got a little older and started to fall for each other it was a little melodramatic but not bad. Then, however, the plot started to take turns

The Pearl Thief

The Pearl Thief Elizabeth Wein, 2017 New Release! I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review. Premise: Prequel to Code Name: Verity . Julie is going home for the last summer on her grandparents' land; her grandfather has passed away and the estate is being sold. From the minute she arrives, however, she'll run across danger, adventure, and a deadly mystery. This was not nearly such an emotional wringer as Code Name: Verity . In context, that's probably for the best. What this is: a delightful historical mystery about an old Scottish family that is lush with historical detail, social commentary, and somewhat idealized adolescent yearning. I really enjoyed it. If I didn't find Julie's narration utterly believable and enchanting, I might cast a side-eye at how well the protagonist navigates issues of discrimination, but I think it works. It helps that her attitudes are presented as a mixture of how she was raised and her per

The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance, Book Two)

The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance, Book Two) N. K. Jemisin, 2010 Premise: Ten years after The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Oree Shoth lives in the city of Sky, now called Shadow. The world is full of power, and a blind woman who can see magic would be useful to those who would harm godlings. While I can't say that this was as perfect and intriguing a book as its predecessor, it is a worthy sequel. With a mostly new cast of characters, Oree's story provides a different perspective (both literal and figurative) on the world than Yeine did. Oree's people's history with the ruling Arameri and the gods means that her alliances are different. This book has a smaller scope, in some ways; it focuses on Oree's conflict with a reactionary cult that sprang up in the wake of the events of the first book. I would have been happy were the stakes only her life and freedom, but of course, more weighty matters are drawn in by the end. Oree's ability to see magic mea

Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga)

Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga) Lois McMaster Bujold, 1991 Hugo Winner - 1992 Premise: Cordelia came to Barrayar to marry and settle down, but the stress of politics and culture shock is only the beginning. I think this is the first time I've read this book without also reading its companion, Shards of Honor . The plots are closely tied, despite being released five years apart. More than three books (and multiple short stories) which take place after Barrayar were released in those intervening years. Starting with Barrayar , I admire the skill with which the characters and the plot are introduced without feeling redundant, even after many re-readings. Of course I adore this book. Shards of Honor is fun but unpolished in sections. This one is the fullest expression of Cordelia's Betan egalitarianism against Barrayar's provincial, painfully-slowly-evolving patriarchy. It expands on Bothari and gives Droushnakovi and Koudelka (minor characters elsewhere) a spotligh

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe Ryan North, Erica Henderson, 2016 Premise: The first original graphic novel starring the only heroine with the powers of both squirrel and girl! Squirrel Girl enjoys eating nuts, kicking butts, and making friends. What would cause her to beat up the entire universe? Many minor characters are from the ongoing series, but you could read this without reading the series as long as you read the character intros. The current Squirrel Girl series is one of my favorites, possibly of all time, and this story has all the aspects I love. Doreen, her squirrel friends, her human friends, her casual attitude toward superheroics, her belief in the goodness of people, her computer science skills. The plot hinges on some unanswered questions about the potential power of communication with squirrels and the established fact that Doreen has taken down a huge number of Marvel villains. She's one of the most powerful characters in Mar