Well, I’ve kept up my quick reading speed with finishing six books since last time. Even an audiobook! But I think I set my expectations a little too high for a few books.
What I’ve been reading lately
A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine: I know it’s early in the year, but this is one of those books that I couldn’t wait to read. First things first, you have to read A Memory Called Empire (book 1). Full stop. This book picks up a bit after book 1. Mahit has returned “home” to the Station. Three Seagrass has risen in the ranks of the government. And both are pretty much miserable. And then near the Station, the Empire is at war with unknown aliens. When the warfront puts out a request for help communicating with the aliens, Three Seagrass jumps at the chance and picks up Mahit on the way. Once at the front, they have to figure out how to communicate with the aliens before the war spins out of control. All the while back in Teixcalaanli, the heir to the Empire is learning more of the world and his place in it. First- the writing in this book is amazing. The characters are great and the world-building is spectacular. But it also explores some heavy topics like identity, culture, memory, leadership and “otherness.” If you want an amazing space opera, please please please pick up this duology.
5 out of 5 stars
Blood Sworn by Scott Reintgen: This is the second book in the series. Where the first book was mostly about the Races with war just under the surface, this one is all about the war. We continue to follow Adrian, Pippa, and Imelda as they fight. But the three of them soon realize their enemy isn’t one another, it’s the gods. And the answers to their questions can only be found in the Underworld, the god’s home. I did miss all the cool horses from the first book. Yes, there were still Phoenix horses, but they were more in the background. It also wrapped up a little too nicely for me as well. I’m still glad I read the book, it just didn’t quite live up to my expectations after the first book.
3.5 out of 5 stars
The Sea in the Sky by Jackson Musker: I finished an audiobook! I got a free trial of Audible again and when I was trying to decide which book to get, I noticed this scripted Audible Original getting all sorts of attention. Since it was included in my trial, I decided to give it a try. And I liked it! I enjoyed the entire experience – this isn’t just a few people reading a book to you. It helps when the story is solid too. Bee and Ty are astronauts investigating Saturn’s moon, Enceladus for life. Ty is the pilot while Bee is the one diving the ocean looking for life. But then disaster happens and the mission is put in peril. There is fun science, fun interaction between characters and some pulling of the heartstrings. I’m still not totally sold on the ending, but it wasn’t a make or break moment for me. I would certainly recommend it!
4 out of 5 stars
Provenance by Ann Leckie: I had pretty high expectations for this book because I loved the Imperial Radch series and this one took place in the same universe. But it fell a little flat for me. We follow Ingray, a public-creche kid adopted into a relatively powerful family (adoption is the norm on her world) that is pretty darn sure that her brother will inherit her mother’s name, but decides to pull a crazy scheme to “win” the inheritance. But her scheme starts all sorts of other events that involves alien treaties and power moves. Sounds cool right? I think what did it for me is Ingray. She just was kind of boring for me. It was like all of her decisions were things she thought she should do, not really what she actually wanted to do. It was all “I should do this because xyz.” Not I’m going to do this because I want to. She was doing all these kind of crazy things but the only emotion that I got was “sigh, I guess I better.”
3 out of 5 stars
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen: Set in a world with castes, magic and plague, this book follows Fie, a chief-in-training of the Crow caste. The Crows are the lowest of the low, mercy-killers of people that get the plague but looked down upon by all the other castes because they don’t have any inherit magic (granted, I would say being immune to the plague is a kind of magic). Fie and her crew are pulled into a plot by the crown prince and his bodyguard. What comes next is Fie trying to live up to the pact that was sworn, protecting her own, and potentially changing the world. This book was just fine. It’s a relatively quick read. I enjoyed the magic system. The characters were fine, nothing amazing. I am currently reading the second book, so there is that.
3 out of 5 stars
Machinehood by S.B. Divya: Set in the near future, AI’s and bots compete with humans in a gig-dominated economy. Humans take “pills” to help them compete with bots. Microdrones allow for pretty much a 24/7 reality show for everyone. There are even tip jars that people can add money to when they feel like someone is doing something fun/interesting/whatever. We follow Welga, an ex-military turned bodyguard. But then a terrorist group called the Machinehood makes their move and demands that humans stop pill production and recognize bots as intelligent beings. Chaos ensues and Welga is recruited by the US Government to help fight the Machinehood, which they think is the same as an old enemy. This had all the pieces for a great book. But something was missing for me. I think it ended up being a little too check-mark-y. I saw another review that said it was interesting, but not engaging. And that fits the bill. I’m not sure I would recommend it, but I also wouldn’t not recommend. So if it sounds interesting, go for it, but maybe lower your expectations.
3.5 out of 5 stars