Diversity Spotlight #3

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the participants are supposed to choose one book for each of the three categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and a diverse book that has not yet been released.

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The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

You know how all those old fairy tales take you through lots of scary adventures till you finally reach that inevitable line: “And they lived happily ever after…” Guess what? It’s not true. Life in never-never land isn’t all sweetness and light. Cinderella – whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (nee Danielle de Glas) – does marry Prince Armand. And (if you can ignore the pigeon incident) their wedding is a dream-come-true.

But not long after the “happily ever after,” Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia – otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty – comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away.

That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her very own Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting.

Can three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland’s most nefarious villains?

I can finally say that I adore this series because I finally finished it! So, there’s quite a bit of strong feminist vibes from the series. Besides that, Talia is from a country that seems middle eastern influenced and she’s gay.

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Dreadnought by April Daniels

Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with “curing” her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.

She doesn’t have much time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Ever since I first heard about this book, I’ve been wanting to read it. I love superhero stories and this has the added interest of having a transgender main girl, so I’m beyond excited.

coming soon

The Long Past & Other Stories by Ginn Hale

1858 – Warring mages open up a vast inland sea that splits the United States in two. With the floodwaters come creatures from a long distant past. What seems like the End Times forges a new era of heroes and heroines who challenge tradition, law, and even death as they transform the old west into a new world.

In the heart of dinosaur country a laconic trapper and a veteran mage risk treason to undertake a secret mission.

A brilliant magician and her beautiful assistant light up stages with the latest automaton, but the secrets both of them are hiding test their trust in each other and pit them against one of the most powerful men in the world.

At the wild edge of the Inland Sea, amidst crocodiles and triceratops, an impoverished young man and a Pinkerton Detective must join forces to outmaneuver a corrupt judge and his gunmen.

I’ve really liked Hale’s books so far, and this collection of stories takes place in such an interesting, unique world that I know I have to get a hold of it.

Have you read any of these books? Love to hear any diverse book recommendations you’ve got!

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My Unfinished Series

So, I’d been giving some thought to what I could blog about to let new visitors get to know my taste in books and what I’m liking/what I’m not and then I remembered a post similar to this that I did last year. (If you like to see how this list changed from the last one, the page can be found here.)

Format of the list
Title of First Book – Author [how many books I’ve read/in the series]

Up to Date

Prudence – Gail Carriger [2/2]
Rebel Mechanics – Shanna Swendson [3/3]
Breakaway – Avon Gale [5/5]
Timekeeper – Tara Sim [1/1]
The Road to Silver Plume – Tamara Allen [1/1]
Daybreak Rising – Kiran Olvier [1/1]
Effigies – Sarah Raughley [1/1]
The Isle of the Lost – Melissa de la Cruz [3/3]
Age of Myth – Michael J. Sullivan [2/2]

High-Priority (AKA: The Series I Need to Finish)

The Cloud Roads – Martha Wells [3/5]
An Accident of Stars – Foz Meadows [1/2]
Earthrise – M.C.A. Hogarth [2/4]
Ella, the Slayer – A.W. Exley [2/3]
Mechanica – Betsy Cornwell [1/2]
The Spirit Thief – Rachel Aaron [3/5]
The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski [1/3]
The High King’s Golden Tongue – Megan Derr [1/4]
Status Update – Annabeth Albert [1/3]
The Stone Prince – Fiona Patton [1/5]

Medium-Priority (AKA: When I Get To Them)

Warrior – Zoe Archer [1/4]
Valor’s Choice – Tanya Huff [4/5]
Falling Kingdoms – Morgan Rhodes [4/5]
Libriomancer – Jim C. Hines [1/4] (Pulled off my ‘Abandoned’ shelf)

Low-Priority (AKA: I’m Not Ready To Say ‘Abandoned’)

Warrior Mage – Lindsay Buroker [1/2]
Mercenary Instinct – Ruby Lionsdrake [5/6]
Luck in the Shadows – Lynn Flewelling [2/7]
The Emperor’s Edge – Lindsay Buroker [8/9]
Balanced on the Blade’s Edge – Lindsay Buroker [1/7]
Radiance – Grace Draven [1/2]
City of Bones – Cassandra Claire [1/6] (Pulled off my ‘Abandoned’ shelf)

Abandoned (AKA: Won’t Read)

Romancing the Duke – Tessa Dare [2/4]
Double-Booked for Death – Ali Brandon [2/6]
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams [1/6]
The Backup Boyfriend – River Jaymes [1/3]
Rescued – Felice Stevens [1/2]
Omega City – Diana Peterfreund [1/2]
The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson [1/1]
Wrapped – Jennifer Bradbury [1/1]
Air Awakens – Elise Kova [2/5]
Ink and Bone – Rachel Caine [1/2]
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor [2/3]
Sunbolt – Intisar Khanani [1/2]

(These are only the series I’ve abandoned since last November. I’ve got a list at that link at the top of the page of all the series I’ve abandoned since I started blogging. Also, these have been rounded down. If I DNF’d a book in the series, I counted the last book I finished.)

I also have a reading challenge update coming at the end of the month and you’ll get to see what series’ I’ve finished this year in it.

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR

Thanks to the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish I find myself in the entirely odd position of doing something I said I was done with: making a TBR. I think part of the reason I had such a reading slump earlier this year (and a blogging slump that turned into a blogging hiatus) was because of TBRs. I’d make one up at the beginning of each month and then not read any of the books on it and feel disappointed in myself. But, I do want to have a TBR list for a season, at least, so I decided to try something a bit different. You see, I recently went on a book buying binge. Right now, I own more books than I have in at least a year, so don’t ask me to choose what I’m actually going to read. Instead I decided to take my list of books and grab a number randomizer off the internet and let fate decide what books I’ll be reading this season.

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Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather’s throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.

Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards.

These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.

The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells

An expedition of groundlings from the Empire of Kish have traveled through the Three Worlds to the Indigo Cloud court of the Raksura, shape-shifting creatures of flight that live in large family groups. The groundlings have found a sealed ancient city at the edge of the shallow seas, near the deeps of the impassable Ocean. They believe it to be the last home of their ancestors and ask for help getting inside. But the Raksura fear it was built by their own distant ancestors, the Forerunners, and the last sealed Forerunner city they encountered was a prison for an unstoppable evil.

Prior to the groundlings’ arrival, the Indigo Cloud court had been plagued by visions of a disaster that could destroy all the courts in the Reaches. Now, the court’s mentors believe the ancient city is connected to the foretold danger. A small group of warriors, including consort Moon, an orphan new to the colony and the Raksura’s idea of family, and sister queen Jade, agree to go with the groundling expedition to investigate. But the predatory Fell have found the city too, and in the race to keep the danger contained, the Raksura may be the ones who inadvertently release it.

The Edge of Worlds, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, returns to the fascinating world of The Cloud Roads for the first book in a new series of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.

The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell.

Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry.

Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude… and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual.

Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die.

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Venturess by Betsy Cornwell

Happily ever after is just the beginning.

Nicolette’s Cinderella story is over, and she’s finally living her own fairy tale happy ending. She’s a successful inventor now, free of her horrible stepfamily, and content in her loving friendship with Caro, a palace servant, and Fin, the prince of Esting.

Then she receives a message from her long-lost housekeeper, now a revolutionary, begging her to bring the prince to Faerie for a diplomatic meeting. Nicolette fears a trap, but decides that the chance to end the bloody war waged by their kingdom is worth the risk.

Together with Fin and Caro, she ventures across the monster-filled ocean to the lush continent she’s always dreamed of visiting. There, mechanical armies and dark magic await as they uncover devastating secrets about the past and fight for a real, lasting happily-ever-after for two troubled countries—and themselves.

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement… if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

Fire Logic by Laurie J. Mark

Earth * Air * Water * Fire

These elements have sustained the peaceful people of Shaftal for generations, with their subtle powers of healing, truth, joy, and intuition.

But now, Shaftal is dying.

The earth witch who ruled Shaftal is dead, leaving no heir. Shaftal’s ruling house has been scattered by the invading Sainnites. The Shaftali have mobilized a guerrilla army against these marauders, but every year the cost of resistance grows, leaving Shaftal’s fate in the hands of three people: Emil, scholar and reluctant warrior; Zanja, the sole survivor of a slaughtered tribe; and Karis the metalsmith, a half-blood giant whose earth powers can heal, but only when she can muster the strength to hold off her addiction to a deadly drug.

Separately, all they can do is watch as Shaftal falls from prosperity into lawlessness and famine. But if they can find a way to work together, they just may change the course of history.

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A Vanishing Glow by Alexis Radcliff

When the High Sovereign of the five kingdoms of Ghavarim is murdered by a mysterious assassin, the realm is plunged into chaos. Jason Tern, a noble captain with a tragic past, must battle shadowy assailants and untangle an ever-widening web of lies to discover the true identity of the killer before mounting tensions spark a bloody civil war.

Meanwhile, Nilya Valsu, a talented army engineer with a broken heart, finds herself used as an unwitting pawn in a plot that has deadly consequences. Wracked by guilt, her sole chance for redemption lies with a man who would loathe her – but only if he knew her secret.

As the conflict intensifies between the magic-fueled technology of the West and the disaffected rebels of the East, all must fight for what they hold dear. Who will reign victorious and who will lie bloodied on the ground in the light of a vanishing glow?

Reawakening by Amy Rae Durreson

For a thousand years, since their defeat of the Shadow at Eyr, the dragons have slept under the mountains. Now their king, Tarnamell, has woken. Driven mad by loneliness, he hurls himself south until he finds and tries to claim the Alagard Desert. Unfortunately, the desert already has a guardian spirit, and he doesn’t want to share. Amused by the cocky little desert spirit, Tarn retreats, planning to return in human form.

When his caravan enters the desert, however, Alagard is missing. Rumors fly of a dark power, and soon Tarn’s caravan encounters the living dead and an amnesiac mage called Gard.

Forced to take refuge in the Court of the Shells, a legendary fortress in the heart of the desert, Tarn, Gard, and their allies decide to seek out the Shadow before it destroys the desert. But to confront the Shadow, Tarn needs to gather his strength. A dragon’s power depends on the love and loyalty of his human hoard, but Tarn’s original hoard has been dead for centuries. Before he can face his most ancient enemy, he must win the trust of new followers and the heart of a cynical desert spirit.

Indexing by Seanan McGuire

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice…especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That’s where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you’re dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn’t matter if you’re Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Indexing is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

I must admit, I’m very happy with the results of this – and it was really fun to put together because each books was a total surprise. (No more indecisive Amy unable to make up her mind!)

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your list? How do TBR lists work out for you? What are you planning to read this fall?

Diversity Spotlight Thursday

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the participants are supposed to choose one book for each of the three categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and a diverse book that has not yet been released.

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Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver

Celosia Brennan was supposed to be a hero. After a spectacular failure that cost her people their freedom, she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance at redemption. Together with a gifted team of rebels, she not only sets her sights on freedom, but defeating her personal demons along the way.

Now branded a failure, Celosia desperately volunteers for the next mission: taking down the corrupt Council with a team of her fellow elementally gifted mages. Leading the Ember Operative gives Celosia her last hope at redemption. They seek to overthrow the Council once and for all, this time bringing the fight to Valeria, the largest city under the Council’s iron grip. But Celosia’s new teammates don’t trust her—except for Ianthe, a powerful Ice Elementalist who happens to believe in second chances.

With Council spies, uncontrolled magic, and the distraction of unexpected love, Celosia will have to win the trust of her teammates and push her abilities to the breaking point to complete the Ember Operative. Except if she falters this time, there won’t be any Elementalists left to stop the Council from taking over not just their country, but the entire world.

This book is not without its flaws, but it is still one of the most diverse books I’ve ever read. There is racial diversity, many, many characters that are on the LGBT+ spectrum and one of the POV characters is blind. Honestly, it deserves a read just because of all that.

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Coral Bones by Foz Meadows

Miranda, daughter to Prospero, the feared sorcerer-Duke of Milan, stifles in her new marriage. Oppressed by her father, unloved by Ferdinand, she seeks freedom; and is granted it, when her childhood friend, the fairy spirit Ariel, returns. Miranda sets out to reach Queen Titania’s court in Illyria, to make a new future…
Monstrous Little Voices is a collection of five short novellas, a single long tale set in Shakespeare’s fantasy world of fairies, wizards and potions, in honour of the four-hundredth anniversary of the Bard’s death.

This is just a short tale (54 pages) but after Foz Meadows work on her Manifold worlds series, I knew I had to read it. As an added bonus, this is a Their Own Voices story as the protagonist is genderqueer as is Meadows.

coming soon

The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother’s Protectorate.

A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue to play a pawn in his mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond he shares with his twin sister?

From what I’ve heard, the setting is culturally and racially diverse and it sounds totally awesome besides!

Once again, love to hear your thoughts on these books and any suggestions you may have for me to read!

Review: Ella, the Slayer by A.W. Exley

Ella, the Slayer is the first in a young adult series. It features a retelling of Cinderella (with lots of little winks toward the tale) where Cinderella is a katana wielding zombie killer.

Ella, the Slayer on Goodreads

My position in the village was that simple. When you cannot face beheading the friend who turned up on your doorstep, even though they are salivating to take a bite from your succulent flesh, you summon the girl who carries the sword.

This book is so much fun.

It’s a katana wielding Cinderella that spends her time – after serving her ‘wicked step-mother’ – slaying the recently returned dead.

So, a lot of people died in the Spanish Flu pandemic, but it wasn’t the flu and they didn’t stay dead. Instead, they come back as ravening zombies that must bite the living to spread their infection.

In all this, we have Ella, the young daughter of a knight and a servant, that was raised by a doting father to learn to ride, shoot and swordfight as well as a boy. She takes it upon herself to protect her small village the best she can, with a blade, putting the undead to their final final rest.

There are so many things to adore about this book. I love the setting the author chose for it. It’s 1919, England, just after the end of World War One. This works so beautifully because for the first time, women went with a force into the workplace. So many men went to war that women were the ones responsible for keeping business and factories and homes running. While Ella takes a more active role, literally fighting to protect her village, it doesn’t seem as out of place as it could have at an earlier time.

I’m a huge fan of fairytale retellings. I love the way authors can take something well known – and I doubt there’s any fairytale as well known as Cinderella – and make it their own. And the author definitely did that here. While I’ve never really been a fan of the whole zombie thing, it works so beautifully here because of the dissonance. Who would have ever thought of Cinderella fighting zombies?

Ella herself is a normal girl – just one with a little more skills in fighting than most have and a very protective streak when it comes to her village. What’s more, she wants to be a normal girl. She yearns for the normal, happy life she lead before the war, when her father was still whole, before the dead rose again.

I really think that both the main characters, Ella and Seth, – the prince surrogate that’s actually a duke – have PTSD. One of the secondary characters is explicitly referred to as having ‘shell shock’ which was a term for a type of PTSD before that term was ever coined.

Beyond all that, I think my absolute favorite thing about this book is how Seth accepts Ella fighting alongside him. It’s obvious that he respects her and even likes her for her fighting abilities and her brains. He never once tries to keep her from fighting, just offers a shoulder and a hand if things get to be too much. And I love that.

5

Content Advisory: This book features a few very graphically descriptive scenes of decomposing corpses and some off-screen/alluded to nonconsensual body modification of a minor character. It is also quite violent, though not graphically so.

Top Ten Books I Loved the Year I Started Blogging

Considering I’ve just started a new blog, the topic this week really tickles my fancy and it seems appropriate that this is one of my first weeks joining back up with the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish. I started my old blog in 2014 and, it’s safe to say, I had no idea what I was doing. Now, almost four full years later, I jumped at the chance to look back at what I loved then. (But, don’t worry. I’m pretty sure that I still don’t know what I’m doing. It’s fun though.)

Books I’d Probably No Longer Love

The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker

2014 was the year I started The Emperor’s Edge series, which was one of my favorite fantasy series for a solid two years. (And I have such fond memories of it now, but can see several glaring reasons I probably wouldn’t enjoy it half as much now, so I might never reread it.)

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

This was one of those total surprise books for me. I remember how much I loved the book, though, looking back on it now, once again I doubt I’d like it as much as I used to.

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

I’m pretty sure that anyone that was following my blog at the time will be reminded of me gushing about this series to anyone that would listen. I loved the first three books with a passion. But was so disappointed by the fourth and final that I can’t reread them.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Oh, my lovely flash in the pan. I adored this book. So, so much, that I was proudly proclaiming Maas as one of my favorite authors. The I read the sequel, hate it more the long I’m away from it, and – thanks to reviews – won’t touch anything else she ever writes. But this book is still on my shelf. *sigh*

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

This was a book that I adored when I read it, but the more I read in the series, the more I disdained the series. Each book was almost exactly like the previous one, the characters were all cookie-cutters of the one that came before – even to the extent that one character had a ‘makeover’ between books three and four – and it hit the same ‘romantic hijinks’ in each of the books. I can’t even remember this book fondly when I think of what the series turned into.

Books I still Might Like (I should probably reread them)

Percepliquis by Michael J. Sullivan

And 2014 was the year that I finished reading The Riyria Revelations series – which is still one of my favorite fantasy series. And one that I really, really want to reread someday soon.

The Iron Jackal by Chris Wooding

I think I read the second and third books in the series in 2014. Honestly, as I’m writing this, the only thing I’m thinking is that I should reread the series. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot of fun and had a delightful cast of misfits characters. (And if I recall rightly, this was my favorite in the series.)

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Of course, any best of list would not be complete without at least something of Carriger’s on it. While this isn’t my favorite series of hers, it’s still a delightfully funny steampunk outing and I just adore it.

The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron

…I’m speechless. I’ve yet to finish this series and I’ve been working on it this long. I’m reading the books at a rate of one a year. And I do really like the series. Blerg. I must finish it this year. I think I’ve only got two left. That’s totally doable. Right?

The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress

This book was a bundle of fun and the three girls that the tale is about are all so awesome. I’ve actually thought about rereading it, and realizing that it’s been this long since the first read, I think I really should.

So, I decided, as you can see, to split this list between books I might still like and ones that I probably wouldn’t. It was actually kind of neat to see it like this.

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #1

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the participants are supposed to choose one book for each of the three categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and a diverse book that has not yet been released.

I knew, restarting a blog, that I wanted to do this meme. I had just started it when I wound up going on a hiatus and now I want to talk about these awesome/awesome-sounding diverse books.

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Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth

Reese Eddings has enough to do just keeping her rattletrap merchant vessel, the TMS Earthrise, profitable enough to pay food for herself and her micro-crew. So when a mysterious benefactor from her past shows up demanding she rescue a man from slavers, her first reaction is to say “NO!” And then to remember that she sort of promised to repay the loan. But she doesn’t remember signing up to tangle with pirates and slavers over a space elf prince… Book 1 of the Her Instruments trilogy is a rollicking space operatic adventure set in the Pelted Paradox universe.

This book is just a lot of fun and a great story, even beyond the fact that the main character is a black woman. And, seriously, it is super hard to find a black main character in a spacefaring sci-fi. I do highly recommend this book though – especially for fans of found families, skirting the legal and those that like a little romance with their space-adventuring!

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Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather’s throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.

Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards.

These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.

Here I am, busy looking for diversity in spec fiction, and I haven’t read Elizabeth Bear yet. She’s got so many awesome sounding stories, but I decided on this one to start with because – from what I’ve heard – it’s based around a non-white culture that’s more than just window dressing.

coming soon

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale

Victoria “Vix” Vincent has only two weeks to find a replacement fiddle player for her band’s summer tour. When classically trained violinist Sawyer Bell shows up for an audition, Vix is thrilled. Sawyer is talented, gorgeous, funny, and excited about playing indie rock instead of Beethoven. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance, even though Vix tries to remember that Sawyer’s presence is only temporary.

Sawyer’s parents think she’s spending the summer months touring Europe with a chamber ensemble. But Sawyer is in dire need of a break from the competitiveness of Juilliard, and desperately wants to rediscover her love of music. Going on tour with her secret high school crush is just an added bonus. Especially when Vix kisses her one night after a show, and they discover that the stage isn’t the only place they have chemistry.

But the tour won’t last forever, and as the summer winds down, Sawyer has to make a tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart.

To say I’m excited for this book is an understatement. I love this author’s writing style – even if I’ve only read her m/m hockey series – and I am so looking forward to see how she does with a f/f with musicians!

I’d love to hear what you think about any of these books! And do leave suggestions and book recs!

Review: Daybreak Rising

Daybreak Rising is a sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian amalgamation with a chosen one that failed and so much diversity you probably won’t know what to do with it. It’s the first in a projected new adult series.

Daybreak Rising on Goodreads

They wanted to see her fail. People assumed the worst of her, without getting to know her beforehand. She’d hardly heard her name in years – just, “Daybreak.”

I have been looking for a book like this.

Basically, this is the story of a failed ‘chosen one’. Years ago, Celosia Brennan was tasked to take down the controlling Council. However, she did what no one thought she would: failed. Now, she’s desperate for a chance to redeem herself.

And she gets that chance, heading the Ember Operative with a group of her fellow mages that don’t trust her.

While the plot is one I adore – I mean, how many times does the ‘chosen one’ actually fail? – what really gets me is the diversity in this book.

We have nearly every main character (of which there are six) fitting somewhere on the LGBT+ spectrum, as well as racial diversity and one character that is blind as well as (at least) one character suffering from PTSD.

This is a book that listens to the voices begging for diverse books and it provides. Provides in a wonderful way and it’s delightful to read.

Now, that being said, as much as I adore the idea behind the story, the characters and the plot itself, the writing is a bit difficult. In fact, it’s a letdown because if the writing had been easier to connect with, I could have given this five stars in a heartbeat.

The descriptions, the way some things – usually minutiae – is over described and things that actually important is barely hinted at was the first problem I noticed.

For example, the main group goes into a pub and it is described as an ‘inviting brick building’ that was ‘full of university students and people getting off work’ while two decent sized paragraphs are dedicated to the food and drink as well as what the eight people eat.

The writing is a bit choppy. There are breaks sometimes after less than a full page, other times after five pages, but even for how short most of the sections are, sometimes the POV character changes in the middle of a section with no indication that it is changing. There are few transition scenes. And, I really hate to say it, this book seems to suffer a bit for that old issue of too much telling instead of showing.

Finally, the story covers a lot of time – something I’ve never been happy with. In the first half of the book, eight months pass. That that much time is passing was indicated once and prior to that, the only mention that any time was passing at all was a character that was imprisoned for three months. Otherwise, I would have suspected that mere weeks had passed.

I’m sincerely hoping that the writing hiccups will be smoothed out in the sequel, because this series shows a lot of promise and the author is doing a wonderful job at answering the cry for more diverse books.

3

Content Advisory: There are some instances of consensual sex, though nothing is explicit. There is also some brief discussions of being transgender – including body dysphoria and talk of operations.

Top Ten Books I Most Recently Nearly DNF’d

I have a habit these days – whether it’s good or bad, I’m not sure – of being very quick to pull the plug on a book I’m not much enjoying. It’s a good thing because then I can move on to a book I know I’ll like, but I have also been known to wind up liking a book that I thought about DNFing. These days I usually almost regret not moving on before finishing the book – and I think that’s probably because I now have a much better grasp on what I like and what I don’t like in books. Now, on to the list of books I nearly quit before finishing!

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Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
Honestly, I had very high hopes for this book, but it just turned out to be so incredibly boring. I love the fairytale it retold, and it was brilliant getting to finally find a retelling with strong diversity and absolutely spectacular girls, but it was just boring. Super boring.

World of Warcraft: Shaman by Paul Benjamin
If this hadn’t been a manga (and therefore super quick to read) I would have dropped it so quick. Basically, what the whole story is telling you is that change is bad, evil and all that good stuff. Which just doesn’t work for me. At all.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
This, as I’m sure nearly everyone knows, is one of those well-loved, popular books that is best known for being funny. However, the humor is not my humor – and because this book offers little besides humor, I found myself not enjoying it much. If I hadn’t been determined to read it for a challenge, I probably would have dropped it.

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Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
This book was such a disappointment after how much I loved Castles Ever After. Considering this was only the second Dare book I’ve read (and because 50/50 isn’t such a good ratio) I was kind of turned off her books because of this one. Not to mention the fact that I was super glad I borrowed it from the library instead of buying it.

Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly
All I could think while reading this book was that it was no Monstrous. But, really, this book was boring and it just never clicked with me.

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
I actually forced my way through this book because I thought I was going to finish the series. Yeah, I finished this book back in June of last year and still haven’t read the sequel – and, if I’m being perfectly honest, probably never will. (And, let me tell you, reading my lovely little rant on Goodreads about this book has me curious because I’m realizing that I remember nearly nothing about this book.)

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City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I don’t know what to say about this book because I honestly don’t even know what I feel towards it anymore. I decided to read it because it’s so super popular and I did enjoy the prequel. However, this book was kind of a slog to read – and I haven’t learnt because I still kind of want to read the next book in the series. (I blame the show – that I own the entirety of season one of and still haven’t gotten around to watching!)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
If this hadn’t been the series finale, I would have quit reading it. Just pulled the plug on it and the series as a whole. But, as I’d already invested time that I can never get back in previous books, (especially the fifth one) and this was the culmination of the story, I forced my way through it. Probably one of the few books I’ve finished in recent years that I actually hate.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
And this was the other book I was thinking of that I finished even though I hated it. I finished it simply so I could write a rather lovely rant-tastic review. Because most books have at least something I can enjoy and this one had nothing. (And, truthfully, I should have went ahead and DNF’d it.)

And there we have my list. (Shh, I know it’s only nine, but that layout looks the best so I most likely will be doing a top nine list and calling it a top ten.) I’d love to know what you thought on these books, if you’re the sort with a hair trigger DNF and what twist you put on the topic this week!

September Releases I’m Excited For

Welcome to my first actual post of my new blog! I’m so excited/happy to get this blog off to a brilliant start – and what better way than to talk about the books I’m interested in that hit shelves/eReaders this month? (Okay, there might be better ones, but this is the one I’m going with!)

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Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Releases September 5th

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

Why I’m interested in it: Okay, so I was much more excited for it before skimming through the reviews. But, I’m still going to be considering it until a few more reviews come out. But, anyway, I think this was on a ‘diverse’ list as well as the fact that it just sounds like it has the potential to be super-awesome!

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale

Releases September 25th

Victoria “Vix” Vincent has only two weeks to find a replacement fiddle player for her band’s summer tour. When classically trained violinist Sawyer Bell shows up for an audition, Vix is thrilled. Sawyer is talented, gorgeous, funny, and excited about playing indie rock instead of Beethoven. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance, even though Vix tries to remember that Sawyer’s presence is only temporary.

Sawyer’s parents think she’s spending the summer months touring Europe with a chamber ensemble. But Sawyer is in dire need of a break from the competitiveness of Juilliard, and desperately wants to rediscover her love of music. Going on tour with her secret high school crush is just an added bonus. Especially when Vix kisses her one night after a show, and they discover that the stage isn’t the only place they have chemistry.

But the tour won’t last forever, and as the summer winds down, Sawyer has to make a tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart.

Why I’m interested in it: Avon Gale. I’ve only read her m/m hockey romances, but I have loved every one and her writing style is just so fun. I’m beyond excited to see her take on f/f and music!

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The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang

Releases September 26th

The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls “effortlessly fascinating.” For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune, available now.

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as children. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While his sister received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, he saw the sickness at the heart of his mother’s Protectorate.

A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue to play a pawn in his mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from his sister Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond he shares with his twin sister?

The Red Threads of Fortune by J.Y. Yang

Releases September 26th

The Red Threads of Fortune is one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls “effortlessly fascinating.” For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Black Tides of Heaven, available now.

Fallen prophet, master of the elements, and daughter of the supreme Protector, Sanao Mokoya has abandoned the life that once bound her. Once her visions shaped the lives of citizens across the land, but no matter what tragedy Mokoya foresaw, she could never reshape the future. Broken by the loss of her young daughter, she now hunts deadly, sky-obscuring naga in the harsh outer reaches of the kingdom with packs of dinosaurs at her side, far from everything she used to love.

On the trail of a massive naga that threatens the rebellious mining city of Bataanar, Mokoya meets the mysterious and alluring Rider. But all is not as it seems: the beast they both hunt harbors a secret that could ignite war throughout the Protectorate. As she is drawn into a conspiracy of magic and betrayal, Mokoya must come to terms with her extraordinary and dangerous gifts, or risk losing the little she has left to hold dear.

Why I’m interested in these books: I don’t even remember how I came across this, but I love everything about the sounds of them. I adore the idea of a pair of connected novellas that, from the sounds, could be read in either order. It’s diverse by a Singaporean author who identifies as queer and non-binary. *slow blink* What, tell me that those aren’t reasons enough. And did I mention it sounds like a totally awesome spec fiction duology?

Interested in any of these books? Did I miss some that you are super-excited for? Do tell so my TBR can keep expanding.