book blog

Book Blog: The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1) by Graci Kim

Posted by on May 7, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

the last fallen star

The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1) by Graci Kim

out now in print and ebook; BookShopB&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Rick Riordan has done wonders for the lit world, not simply through his own books, but his support of other authors. I’ve read several middle grade books in his new Presents line, and there hasn’t been a bad one in the bunch. Graci Kim’s fun yet meaningful romp The Last Fallen Star is an incredible new novel inspired by Korean mythology and set in Los Angeles.

Riley is a relatable, great heroine from the start. She was adopted into a family of Gom, witch healers, but has no magic herself, much to her vexation. In an incredibly pleasant twist to familiar tropes, Riley has a fantastic relationship with her family, including her almost-the-same-age sister, Hattie. In fact, Hattie loves her so much that she’s willing to do forbidden magic to split her magical power with Riley. Of course, everything goes wrong. The Gods and the supernatural get involved. Hattie is in terrible peril. Riley ends up on an urgent quest to save Hattie before her sister is lost forever.

The pace of the book is fast and punctuated by moments of humor and levity, but what I loved most was the story’s genuine heart. The people here feel real and complicated. There are major messages of belonging and family, but they are not heavy-handed or suffocating. Plus, hey, the book is loads of fun, and a great way to learn about Korean mythology and culture. I not only want to read the next book in this series, but I want to read more of Kim’s writing, too.

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Book Blog: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Posted by on Apr 30, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I read this as part of my Norton finalist packet.

What a fantastic YA book! Elatsoe has an urban fantasy vibe, kinda, but spins everything in a brilliant, original way. A big reason for that is the dynamic, smart heroine, Elatsoe aka Ellie. She’s still a high schooler but she has big dreams of becoming a paranormal PI. She knows the paranormal well, as she was raised on the stories of her incredible Lipan Apache ancestress Six-Great, and her near-constant companion is the ghost of her beloved dog, who she raised herself. When her cousin is in a terrible car accident, he reaches out in a dream to tell her this was no accident, but murder. Ellie goes along with her parents to take care of her cousin’s widow, and finds herself investigating not the murderer but an entire creepy town.

I loved how smart this book was. Ellie is a kid, sure, but she is competent, and she is respected for her competence by her parents and those who know her. That is so refreshing! That doesn’t take away from the tension in the book, either, because Ellie still has a lot to learn. This is a story packed with twists and turns, and the world Little Badger established is endlessly fascinating. I mean, I tend to avoid books with vampires because I feel they have been so overdone, but the way they come across here feels fresh and new, and I LOVED a scene where Ellie and her mom banish an unwelcome vampire.

I hope there are more books set in this world. I would love to visit here again!

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Book Blog: The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk

Posted by on Apr 23, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

midnight bargain

The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk

out now in print and ebook; BookShopB&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken? 

I checked out this book from my library as part of my reading of Nebula finalists for this year.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. LOOOOOOOVE. It hits all of my sweet spots. A regency-inspired original world, with magic! Women striving for independence against societal expectations! A central romance with a guy who is a respectful, smart, supportive person, not a jerk! Smart heroines! Everything about this book is glorious and wonderful, including an ending that delivered a multitude of surprises and immense satisfaction.

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Book Blog: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Posted by on Apr 16, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

dictionary of lost words

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Brilliantly written, thoroughly researched, deeply emotional. The Dictionary of Lost Words is an incredible work of literary and historical fiction.

The lead character, Esme, grows up with the Oxford English Dictionary. Motherless, curious, she spends many of her earliest days playing and observing beneath the desk of her father in the ‘Scriptorium,’ set up in a shed on the Oxford grounds. It’s there she finds the abandoned slip for ‘bondmaid’ and begins collecting more words. At first, she steals discards from the Scriptorium, but as she grows up, she realizes there are lost words everywhere–words deemed too crude or low class to be included the decades-long labor of the dictionary, words especially used by women and the dismissed of society. She collects her words along with life experiences.

This is a profound book, truly. It’s about words, and people, and love, and loss. It’s never preachy, but the messages are there. The way everything is delicately laced together is a marvel. The end of the book made me weepy more than once. There are some terrible tragic turns, and then–the very ending is a surprise culmination that resolves everything with stunning sweetness.

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Book Blog: American Cider: A Modern Guide to a Historic Beverage by Dan Pucci & Craig Cavallo

Posted by on Apr 9, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

american cider

American Cider: A Modern Guide to a Historic Beverage by Dan Pucci & Craig Cavallo

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

American Cider sets about–and succeeds–with two major goals. First of all, it essentially lays out American history, region by region, by following the progression of apple trees, and by extension, the brewing of cider. It doesn’t ignore the fact that this is also a story of colonialism. White settlers brought their seeds and scions, and the planting of apple trees was among the first things done when establishing households in what was once Native American land. Likewise, when tribes were forced from their homelands and onto reservations, the destruction of their buildings and apple trees was included in that effort. Props to the authors for being up-front about that aspect of apples–that honesty ads a lot to the book, and prevents it from feeling like a lengthy propaganda piece on the awesomeness of apples…

…Though let us not deny, apples are indeed awesome. The authors’ passion and knowledge of their subject matter also comes through, loud and clear. This isn’t a book for the person vaguely-interested in apples and cider, though it is an engaging read all the way through. This is a book for the foodies, for the people who really love cider and wants to understand it more, and those who are interested in starting their own cidery.

On that note, the book’s second major emphasis in in describing and exploring up-and-coming cideries across the country. Wow, did these sections make me want to go on a road trip and try everything that was out there. The information is pretty detailed. They lay out the geography and climate and how that impacts apples, what has been grown in the past, what grows now, and various other details about varying business operations. It definitely inspired me to buy cider at Trader Joe’s this week when I recognized a name from this book.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys American cider and wants to understand the history, present, and future trajectory of the beverage. (As for me, I hope that trajectory means it is pouring straight down my gullet.)

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Book Blog: Machinehood by S.B. Divya

Posted by on Apr 2, 2021 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

machinehood

Machinehood by S.B. Divya

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

From the Hugo Award nominee S.B. Divya, Zero Dark Thirty meets The Social Network in this science fiction thriller about artificial intelligence, sentience, and labor rights in a near future dominated by the gig economy.

Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed in front of her. It’s 2095 and people don’t usually die from violence. Humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive, but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in an increasingly competitive gig economy. Daily doses protect against designer diseases, flow enhances focus, zips and buffs enhance physical strength and speed, and juvers speed the healing process.

All that changes when Welga’s client is killed by The Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group that has simultaneously attacked several major pill funders. The Machinehood operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.

Global panic ensues as pill production slows and many become ill. Thousands destroy their bots in fear of a strong AI takeover. But the US government believes the Machinehood is a cover for an old enemy. One that Welga is uniquely qualified to fight.

Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood and what do they really want?

A thrilling and thought-provoking novel that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?

 

I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley.

The year 2021 has just started, but I already know this is one of the best new science fiction books I will read this year. It’s that good. Divya has created an utterly immersive future that is plausible and spooky all at once.

Welcome to a future Earth where designer drugs help people work and think faster in order to keep them competitive with advanced machines. Everyone has personal drone clouds that broadcast their activities to the world, with strangers casting money into their tip jar for deeds done well. Welga is a tough woman working in higher echelons of security when a client is killed by a new terrorist group. The Machinehood is demanding rights for bots–or else they’ll shut down the pill trade and tech networks, essentially ending modern civilization. Welga tries to find out who and what the Machinehood really is, even as her own health begins to shatter. This is a read that ponders some very deep philosophical questions: what is a machine? what is sentient life?

Some scifi books with advanced tech this deep are so full of jargon they lose me within the first chapter. This book didn’t. Divya builds details at the right pace. This isn’t a book just about hard scifi, though. It’s packed with genuine heart. Every character feels complex and realistic, as does the incredible diversity of ethnicities, religions, and genders. With the stakes so high and the plot so deep, I wondered if everything could pull together in the end–it did. The ending is satisfying and strong, and left me a little sad that it was all done.

Truly a stellar work, and the first one to go on my novel award nominee list for 2021.

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