Reviews by Vanessa

Review

A Deadly Education

Posted: July 19, 2021 by Vanessa in Books We Love Meta: Naomi Novik, Fantasy, Young Adult
A Deadly Education

Galadriel, or in A DEADLY EDUCATION she’s known as “El”, is a junior at The Scholomance, a school of magic. You can think Hogwarts if you want, but instead of summer holidays or weekend trips for butterbeer, the students must ward their bedroom or else be eaten by magical creatures who consider young students a tasty snack. When students graduate, they face a gauntlet of the worst magical and student-eating baddies the school has to offer, and if they don’t have an alliance or an arsenal of spells ready, they won’t make it. The school matriculation rate is pretty abysmal.

At least until Orion Lake came along, whose affinity for fighting magical baddies has kept the student population, if not at 100%, has at least given the kids inside a fighting chance. Even El has been saved from the occasional baddie by Orion a few times now, even when she didn’t need it, and it’s made her downright cranky. Who does he think he is, anyway? If only he knew about El’s affinity. Think “love me and despair.” Which, actually, isn’t too far off from Orion’s suspicion that she’s siphoning off the life force of her fellow students to power her own magic, so he sticks close to keep an eye on her. What he doesn’t expect (or El, either) is that her annoyed attitude toward him–compared to the fawning of the rest of the student population–is refreshing and honest. Will this lead to friendship? Or maybe something more?
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Review

Station 11

Station 11

If you’re looking for a book that focuses on character development, then STATION 11 is the book for you.

Or maybe plot isn’t so important and you like meandering through a setting that is both familiar and foreign.

It may also be that you like books with elements that don’t seem important to the plot as a greater whole OR maybe you find satisfaction with plodding through 280 pages before you start seeing the connections between the characters and plot points.

If this is the case, you might just enjoy STATION 11. Alas, those aren’t the kinds of things I look for in a book. I definitely wasn’t the target audience.
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Review

Machine

Posted: May 24, 2021 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Elizabeth Bear, Science Fiction
Machine

Seriously, how does Elizabeth Bear come up with such mind-blowing, thought-provoking stuff on the regular? There’s RANGE OF GHOSTS (EBR Review), there’s THE STONE IN THE SKULL (EBR Review), there’s KAREN MEMORY (EBR Review)–all of which are very different, yet all crazy weird and engaging and fun to read.

Bear does it again with THE MACHINE, only this time it’s science fiction with a dose of medicine. (Even if you didn’t read the linked but not necessarily series ANCESTRAL NIGHT you’ll get caught up relatively quickly).
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Review

The Bone Shard Daughter

Posted: December 20, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Andrea Stewart, Fantasy
The Bone Shard Daughter

Lin doesn’t remember much before the day she woke in the room with the chrysanthemum ceiling. Her father–the emperor–said her amnesia is the result of an illness that stole her memories. She doesn’t remember her mother (long since dead), her childhood, or the bond shard magic lessons she’s supposedly been learning from her father the years previous. Instead, her current life is full of competition with Bayan, a young man who is also learning the bone shard magic and may take her place as emperor if he learns it better than her. But Lin will do whatever it takes to get ahead, even if it means sneaking around the palace to get the information she needs.
You see, bone shard magic is what the emperor uses to protect his people from the ancient race that used to enslave the population. Bone shards power the golem-like constructs that act as guards, spies, and warriors. But, of course, there is a price. Bone shards come from each child as they come of age. […]Read the rest of this review »

Review

Kitty’s Mix Tape

Posted: October 6, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Carrie Vaughn, Urban Fantasy, Short Fiction
Kitty’s Mix Tape

First thing you should know is that KITTY’S MIX TAPE can be read without having read any of the books in the series (we’ve reviewed a few of them HERE). BUT, if you read this book before reading any of the books there will be a few spoilers. However, if you want a taste of the world of Kitty Norville and the werewolves, vampires, and witches that inhabit it without diving wholesale into the 14-book series, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
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Review

A Plague of Giants

Posted: September 1, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Kevin Hearne, Fantasy
A Plague of Giants

There are five known magical ‘kennings’ or types: air, water, fire, earth, and plants. Each nation specializes in of these kennings, and the magic influences the society. There’s a big pitfall with this diversity of ability and locale–not everyone gets along.
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Review

The Orphans of Raspay

Posted: August 25, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Lois McMaster Bujold, Fantasy, Short Fiction
The Orphans of Raspay

Lois McMaster Bujold’s delightful series of novellas featuring Penric and his demon Desdemona continues with “The Orphans of Raspay” where Penric becomes hopelessly caught up in the sad situation of two orphan girls. If you haven’t read the previous novellas, go check them out, starting with “Penric’s Demon” (EBR review), where you’ll get my opinion on the Audible reader as well as the low-down on what it means to be a sorcerer with one’s own demon.
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Review

Six of Crows

Posted: August 21, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Leigh Bardugo, Fantasy
Six of Crows

Kaz is a lieutenant for one of the crime lords of Ketterdam. He’s made a name for himself, mostly because he’s willing to do anything for money. And when he’s offered an insane amount of money for a job that may get him killed, he takes it. If anyone can out-think an impossible situation, it’s Kaz Brekker.

But he needs the right crew if he plans to pull it off.
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Review

Driftwood

Posted: August 7, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like Meta: Marie Brennan, Fantasy
Driftwood

“Last” is the name of a man you can hire to lead you through the confusing realm of Driftwood. But that’s not the name he was born with. If he can remember back that far.

First you need to understand Driftwood, a realm where dying civilizations get caught up into its black hole (not really any way to explain it, even though that’s not what it is). At first their neighbors disappear. Then their boundaries. Then they find themselves with new neighbors of different worlds, races, and languages. And all of them are moving toward the inexorable deterioration of their society until it disappears completely. It may take a few generations (depending on the life-expectancy of the natives), but their apocalypse is inevitable.
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Review

Blood Countess

Posted: April 28, 2020 by Vanessa in Books We Like...and Hate Meta: Lana Popovic, Horror, Young Adult
Blood Countess

If you haven’t heard of Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Wikipedia) you’ve missed out on a fascinating true story from history. Because she was born in 1560, our understanding of the events that surrounded her life are a little sketchy, but we do know she was beautiful, well-educated, rich, and well-connected. And she was accused of killing 600 girls.

Lana Popovic decided it was a story worthy of trying to tell in BLOOD COUNTESS.
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