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Showing posts from January, 2018

A Natural History of Dragons

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A Natural History of Dragons Marie Brennan, 2013 Premise: Being the first part of the memoirs of Lady Trent, natural philosopher and biologist, notable dragon researcher. This book is obviously up my alley from the premise. It's written in the style of a classic memoir from the 1800s. It's set in a fantasy world; the characters are from an analogue of England (empire, aristocracy, etc.) The main character Isabella is wealthy and high-class, which means that as she grows up, her interest in science and exploration is squelched by a family who wants her to marry well. However, her parents aren't just stereotypes. Instead, her father quietly encourages her to find a husband who would appreciate her intelligence. Her romance with Jacob is complicated and understated. I liked that the author was able to find the balance with Isabella being an extraordinary person with extraordinary drive and dreams without making her unaffected by her upbringing and culture. Event

Of Fire and Stars

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Of Fire and Stars Audrey Coulthurst, 2016 Premise: Princess Denna has always been preparing for her arranged marriage to the prince of the neighboring kingdom. She was reconciled to a boring life and relationship, until she met her fiancĂ©’s sister. I intended to read a little of this book as a palate cleanser when I didn’t feel like anything serious, but I ended up finishing it quickly - it was difficult to put down. It’s a fluffy and delightful fantasy romance-adventure. Denna and Mare (both shortened forms of long flowery names) are enjoyable protagonists, and their growing affection toward each other, first as friendship, then as more, is compelling. On the other hand, I found characters' behavior and the politics of the fantasy kingdoms (and the failures of various politicians which justified the main characters’ actions) too predictable in most cases. It’s not bad, it’s just a little by the numbers. Modern numbers, that is. It runs against plenty of older fantas

Indexing: Reflections

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Indexing: Reflections Seanan McGuire, 2016 Premise: Sequel to Indexing. Picking up where we left off, with a wanna-be controller of stories in custody and a Snow White barely hanging on to reality. I enjoyed this follow-up just as much as the first one, maybe more. It has some of the same flaws - some plot threads left unraveled, some concepts reintroduced too often (a product of being released as a serial). The characters are more complicated and interesting, though, because it can build on what’s already there. After only one point-of-view section in the first book, Sloane takes more of a starring role in this one, and we also get to learn more about her past. She’s awesome in so many ways, and both she and Henry go through some deep internal questioning of their relationships with their stories and their choices in how they deal with it. I liked the new minor characters who were introduced in this one, and some other examples of ways stories are held in stasis or ho

Red Mars (Mars Trilogy book 1)

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Red Mars (Mars Trilogy book 1) Kim Stanley Robinson, 1993 Premise: Humanity’s first colony on Mars imports many of Earth’s problems, despite the colonists’ efforts. This book was not a Hugo winner, but both its sequels were. It tells the story of the first Martian colony, following members of the “first hundred” from the journey through years of growth and into a major crisis. I had some trouble getting into this book at the beginning. I actually started it three times before I got past the first section. It starts in the middle of the story, and even though that section was exciting in terms of what happened, I didn’t know any of the characters yet, and I didn’t connect with what was going on. After that, it jumped back to the beginning of the mission and introduced all the characters. Each section was from a different perspective. I especially liked Nadia the practical mechanic-minded person, and I really liked Anne the ecologist’s section near the end. By the end I li