Book Reviews

2016 TBR List Update, April

Another four books read from the list means another update! An airplane ride this past month meant I got to read two books back to back and I’ve been overall devoting more time to reading, since my brain has been so foggy.

I just finished Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, a sci-fi-esque exploration of what would happen if aliens showed up off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria. I say sci-fi-esque because while yes, there are aliens, it features a lot of supernatural elements, too, and science is never at the forefront. I loved it for that and I loved it because it’s just so refreshing to read a story where aliens don’t destroy New York or something else ridiculous. Yes, more of this please.

Keeping with the books I absolutely adored theme, have you read On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis yet? You should read it. Seriously. Go. Now. I’ll wait.

*drums fingers*

*checks watch*

Ah – you’re back? You read it? Good. Now we can squee together about how awesomely amazing it is to have a YA book tackle so many real things and present the end of the world in such a hopeful, humanitarian way. I loved that all of the characters were fully fleshed out, human beings with flaws and hopes and dreams, and no one was Evil, but no one was Good, and it was just beautiful on a number of levels and that ENDING, yes yes, and the cats and yes I cried about the cats every. single. time. they came up.

Gah. Real contender for favorite book of the year, right there.

Before those two, I read (see: listened) to Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. This made it onto my TBR list largely because it was such a big hit last year and I kept reading/hearing about it everywhere. I like to keep up to date.

It was, however, not a book for me. It was well written overall, but I was just not drawn into the story. I think this was largely because it retread a lot of YA themes that have been popular in the last few years that I haven’t enjoyed, but others (obviously) have.

And last, but not least, I finished Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M Lee way back in March. This made it onto the list because it a) features a female main character who shares my name (rare!), and b) TIME POWERS.

While I enjoyed the story and the characters, I was thrown a bit by the sudden change in direction of the plot. Also I was a little disappointed that there weren’t a lot more fights using said TIME POWERS. Honestly. The world needs more epic battles with TIME POWERS.

That said, it looks like this is the beginning of a series, so I will keep an eye out for the sequel. Which will hopefully include more TIME POWERS.

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (YA)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M Lee
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  • The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn
  • The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Sons of Thesian by ME Vaughan
  • Too Like the Lightning Ada Palmer
  • The Shadowed Sun by NK Jemisin
  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (YA)
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu
  • The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyviss (YA – 2016)
Book Reviews

2016 TBR List Update

I have been making fairly steady progress on my 2016 TBR List of Awesome. Considering there are a number of other books I’ve read in the meantime, I think getting through five in two months keeps me right on track. I’m glad I put this list together because it’s very easy to get distracted by new/shiny books and ideas and to go down a path of research, without actually making progress reading the new stuff in my own genres. Also, so far, they’ve all been fun!

I just finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which was just the kind of fantasy I love. Fun and full of magic and more than a bit of adventure. It very much felt like more of an adult Tamora Pierce or Dealing with Dragons kind of story.

Before that, I finished The Accidental Terrorist which was not at all fantasy, but memoir, and absolutely fascinating. I’ve always been curious about Mormons and what, exactly, they’re doing out walking the streets in their crisp white-collared shirts, and this severely humanizes them. Plus, it laces quite a bit of Mormon history into the story, interestingly paralleling the author’s own experiences. Illuminating and surprisingly hard to put down.

The Ghost Bride was a different sort of fantasy – much more ethereal, much less full of magic – that I enjoyed. I think this one was published in an earlier year, but it was worth making the exception to add it to my list. Driftingly dark and occasionally disturbing and honestly, I never quite knew where it was going to go next.

Six of Crows was more in line with contemporary YA, but without most of the dreary and cliched trappings I’ve come to expect. Somehow, the author pulled off a great book with a twisty plot and relatable characters, even when one of those characters would normally be described as a horrible human being. I loved the Slavic flavor of the magic and the cultures. I’m so glad to be seeing more and different cultures used as a base for fantasy in lieu of the traditional European.

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps was not at all what I expected and perhaps much too short. I only realized after the fact that this was actually a novella, but it could easily be expanded further. The ideas were there, and the themes, but alas. I enjoyed it, even as I also recognized this book wasn’t quite for me.

So there we go – five down, sixteen to go. I’m hoping to be halfway through in the next two months, while somehow juggling all the research I suddenly need to do (whole ‘nother blog post).

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (YA)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M Lee
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  • The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn
  • The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Sons of Thesian by ME Vaughan
  • Too Like the Lightning Ada Palmer
  • The Shadowed Sun by NK Jemisin
  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (YA)
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu
  • The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyviss (YA – 2016)
Life

2016 Reading Goals

My main goal for this year is not only to read more, but to read more of the kind of books I enjoy. That is: fun, adventurous fantasy. On top of that, I’d also like to broaden my horizon and read from a diverse array of authors.

To assemble my own list, I rifled through the 2015 year-end best of lists for fantasy and diverse authors, tacked on a few I’d been interested in from earlier years, and came up with the following 21 definitely-gonna-read books (in no particular order):

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (YA)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (YA)
  • Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M Lee
  • The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
  • The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn
  • The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Sons of Thesian by ME Vaughan
  • Too Like the Lightning Ada Palmer
  • The Shadowed Sun by NK Jemisin
  • Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (YA)
  • The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  • Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu
  • The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Prophecy by Ellen Oh
  • The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
  • Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyviss (YA – 2016)

My total book goal for the year is 50, so this gives me some wiggle room. I have a tendency to just pick books up randomly and on a whim as I come across them online or in the world. This way, I have the ability to still do that, but also a core reading list that will help me a) stay up to date with recent fantasy, b) diversify my reading, and c) be a ton of fun to read through.

Do you have a reading goal for 2016?