It’s been ages since I last did some proper reviews, so I’m going to attempt to catch up with several book and movie reviews the next few weeks. Like last year I’m doing the 52 Book Challenge: read 52 books in 52 weeks. I “only” managed 40 books last year, so I was really hoping to push myself this year and read more. So far though week 22 just finished yesterday and I’ve done 15 books. Not bad, but also not on target.

Parasite Mira Grant

Parasite – Mira Grant

I love Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire’s books. She one of my favourite writers and never fails to tell an interesting story. In Parasite, Grant sets up a world in the near future where scientists have discovered a way to keep people in perfect health: genetically engineered tapeworm implants. Six years ago after a major car crash, Sally Mitchell was the first person to be implanted with an “Intestinal Bodyguard”, but not everything about the implants are as straightforward as it seems…

I really enjoyed the book; the future world Grant describes has just enough realism and science to it that makes you believe it could actually be possible. My only complaint is that the ending is a bit predictable, but I’m curious to see how the events play out in the next book.

This Alien Shore

This Alien Shore – CS Friedman

I’ve only read one fantasy series from CS Friedman, so was interested to see what she did with a scifi story. I’m not even sure where to start with describing the plot: the background of the world she’s created is so rich and interesting, it’s impossible to describe in just a mere couple of sentences. I think the main thing though that sets it aside from other sci-fi books I’ve read: there are no aliens. When humans discovered long distance space travel, they discovered that a) they were alone and b) their long distance space travel created genetic mutations, creating basically a new alien race with each ship of colonists they sent out. After realizing this, they abandoned all the space colonies until a new form of travel could be discovered.

The Black Prism The Blinding Knife

The Black Prism & The Blinding Knife – Brent Weeks

I really enjoyed Brent Weeks’s previous series The Night Angel trilogy, and he’s so good in telling interesting unpredictable stories. In The Lightbringer series he creates a world where magic is based on light and colour theory: mages can harness the visible light they have an affinity for and create a substance from it called Luxin. Each mage can “draft” at least one colour and each colour has its own special properties. Beyond the cool world and magic building though, the Lightbringer series so far tells such an epic story. I can’t wait until the next book of this series comes out!

The Tower The Grove

The Tower & The Grove – Jean Johnson

These two books are the first two in Jean Johnson’s Guardians of Destiny series, a sequel to her previous Sons of Destiny series (8 books about 8 mage brothers). The books are about 8 different Guardians, each the protector of a great source of power bound to a specific location.

In The Tower, this takes the form of an ever-changing tower of traps, monsters and puzzles, which groups of adventurers can attempt for fortune and fame. When Guardian Kerric Vo Moss is locked out of his tower control center, he must pair up with the Painted Warrior Myal to run the gauntlet himself.

In The Grove, the Witch-Priest Aradin Teral is on a quest to find a suitable religious representative of the Kingdom of Katan to attend the Convocation of Gods and Man. He comes across Saleria, the Guardian of The Grove, a magical garden warped by the wild powers of the place.

Both of these books were so much fun! I loved reading about all the different puzzle chambers in the Tower and how the characters had to solve them. Unlike the previous series which was all set on the same island in the same country, this series visits different countries with different cultures and religions; Johnson has done a great job creating rich and intriguing stories.

Grants Pass

Grant’s Pass

What if something catastrophic happened in the world? What if you had heard about a place that was safe? Would you go? Grant’s Pass is an anthology that asks just that question. Unlike most anthologies I know though, the stories in this one are all set in the same world: a major epidemic of three engineered plagues wipes out most of the world, leaving only a handful of people behind. Just before major communications went down, one blogger’s article went viral: if anything happened, she had plans to meetup with anyone that remained at Grant’s Pass.

I loved this anthology. There are seventeen stories and each gives a unique take on the world the editor’s created. There were a couple that really stood out for me though: Ascension by Martin Livings, Animal Husbandry by Seanan McGuire and Remembrance by James M Sullivan.

I can’t quite believe how fast the past two months have flown by! I had planned to write up a review after every book I finished, but again I haven’t found the time to do that. I’m doing okayish with my book resolutions/challenges. I’ve managed not to buy a single book yet this year, although I’ve been sorely tempted by a few. I’ve been struggling more with my 52 books in 52 weeks though; I’m only on 6 books, while by now I should have finished 8 already. Hopefully I’ll catch up, but it’s trickier that I thought!

Be Still My Vampire Hear - Kerrelyn Sparks

Be Still My Vampire Heart by Kerrelyn Sparks

This is the third book in Kerrelyn Spark’s Love at Stake series and again it’s a lot of fun. I’ve only just discovered her books and with thirteen books in the series I’ve got some serious catching up to do! So far it reminds me a lot of Lynsay Sands’ books: they’re funny, entertaining reads with a cool vampire world that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This one is about the general of the vampire army falling in love with a vampire slayer.

Lord of the Changing Winds - Rachel Neumeier

Lord of The Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier

I struggled a lot with this book and it was almost a DNF (did not finish) for me. I already had bought the following two books though, so I thought I should at least give it a shot. The concept sounds interesting: a teenage girl, Kes, finds out she has the ability to heal griffins. I really wanted to like this book, but nothing about it stood out to me. The characters aren’t that likable, the story is pretty predictable and the world didn’t feel fleshed out.

The-Night-Angel-Trilogy-Brent-Weeks

The Night Angel Trilogy by Brent Weeks

I’m in two minds about this series. The first book starts off with a pretty harsh world, which only gets worse as the story progresses. Rape, incest, cannibalism… those aren’t really the things I look for in a book. Plus there was a certain lack of storytelling and world and character building; I constantly felt as if there was more to these characters and their backstories, but I just wasn’t seeing it. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled lately by books like The Name of The Wind, but I was missing the beauty in the way a story can be told.

And yet, despite all those things the story itself was pretty compelling; I managed to finish book one and two in 3 days, picking it up whenever I could find the time. It actually managed to surprise me; the first book alone has at least 4 twists towards the end (one of which I saw coming, the others were proper “OMG!” moments). It’s not the most brilliant series out there, but it’s definitely a good read. Interested? Why not enter my giveaway for the first book in the series?

My Lady Mage - Alexis Morgan

My Lady Mage by Alexis Morgan

This is the first book in Alexis Morgan’s new Warriors of the Mist series. It’s a fantasy romance: it’s got your typical romance tropes, but it’s set in an interesting fantasy world. The “warriors” from the series title were damned by the gods to fight evil; they lie dormant under the mists of the river until they are called upon by those in need. In this book they are awakened by Merewen to save her people from her uncle’s cruelty. And obviously she falls in love with one of the damned warriors. The book manages to properly balance the fantasy and romance elements, turning it into a fun read. Each warrior is linked to an animal avatar and it’s fun discovering their backstories. I’m very curious to see how this story continues!

Round 2 of my book review roundup from last year!

Redshirts

Redshirts by John Scalzi

This was one of my favourite books last year. As I said in my giveaway, I think it’s a Must Read for every Star Trek fan. It’s (obviously) about the redshirts on a ship who notice disturbing things happen on away missions. I don’t really want to say much more beyond that. If like the sound of the book, go read it!

Redshirts is currently $10.19 on Amazon.com and £7.19 on Amazon.co.uk.

American-Gods-Neil-Gaiman

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I had American Gods on my bookshelf for ages, but never got around to reading it. There’s something about Neil Gaiman’s style of writing that I don’t like. His stories are great, but it’s the way that they’re written that somehow doesn’t resonate with me. I loved the concept of American Gods though. It follows Shadow, a just released convict, who’s recruited by the mysterious man Mr Wednesday. You slowly learn America has gods: beings that are created because of people who worship them. Initially this meant the gods of old (like Egyptian/Norse/etc), but in the modern world that means gods of technology, of TV, of trains. It’s a great idea and it was fun discovering the different gods and their stories.

American Gods is currently $11.53 on Amazon.com and £6.29 on Amazon.co.uk.

The-Lady-Is-A-Vamp-Lynsay-Sands

The Lady is A Vamp by Lynsay Sands

I always enjoy Lynsay Sands’s Argeneaus books. They’re not the usual take on vampires (it’s Atlantean nanotechonology that causes immortality) and they always tend to be funny and romantic. This book takes on a bit more serious note when a man kidnaps Jeanne Louise Argeneau to convince her to turn his dying daughter. It was a interesting read, but not as fun as Sands books normally are.

The Lady is A Vamp is currently $7.99 on Amazon.com and £4.99 on Amazon.co.uk.

The-Darkest-Surrender-Gena-Showalter

The Darkest Surrender by Gena Showalter

This is the 8th book in the Lords of the Underworld series. It’s about Strider, the Keeper of Defeat, and Kaia, a harpy. I’ve really enjoyed the previous books, but I struggled massively with this one. I had a similar problem with one of the earlier books as well and it turns out that in both books the heroine was a harpy… The book does set up some interesting stuff for future characters; I can’t wait to see Kane’s and William’s stories!

The Darkest Surrender is currently $7.99 on Amazon.com and £5.99 on Amazon.co.uk.

How-To-Marry-A-Millionaire-Vampire Vamps-In-The-City

How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire/Vamps In The City by Kerrelyn Sparks

I came across this series while trying to find new books, only to find it already has 13 books! And they’re fun. They remind me a lot of Lynsay Sands’ series. I have to say though I hate the name of the first book. Yes, he’s a millionaire vampire, but that’s barely got anything to do with the story. It’s about Roman Draganesti who accidentally loses a fang and needs a dentist, only to discover the dentist at the clinic he goes to is on the run from the maffia. The second book is about a vampire reality TV show. It’s ridiculous, but a whole lot of fun.

How To Marry A Millionaire Vampire is $7.99 on Amazon.com and £5.24 on Amazon.co.uk, Vamps In The City is $7.99 on Amazon.com and £7.99 on Amazon.co.uk.

As I’ve said many times this week already, I’m planning to write more reviews instead of doing these massive roundups. Fingers crossed that this is last one for a while! I only managed to write 1 review from the 13 books I read between July and December 2012 (read it here: Ashes of Honour by Seanan McGuire) which means I now have to do reviews for 12 books… So I’m splitting it up into two posts: 6 book reviews today, 6 book reviews tomorrow.

The-Name-of-the-Wind The-Wise-Mans-Fear

The Name of The Wind/The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

I had heard a lot of great things about The Name of The Wind and I can’t believe how long I had it on my shelf until I finally read it. I loved loved loved it. It’s beautifully written and one of the best fantasy stories I’ve ever read. I love the story within a story structure; the book opens with a small town young innkeeper who we learn is “Kvothe”, an infamous and mysterious magician/assassin/warrior/kingslayer trying to hide from his past. After being discovered and convinced by the storyteller Chronicler, Kvothe decides to tell his life story, insisting it will last 3 days (one day for each book).

There’s so much I loved about these books. They’re beautifully written, have great characters (that actually grow) and a great story with an awesome world and magic system (the magic system is unique, based on what seems like almost realistic physic and chemistry principles). The story feels epic, even though we’re only following the life of one man. But what a life! I loved the juxtaposition of the young Kvothe and the older Kvothe telling the story; you just know so many things are going to happen to him to make him turn out that way.

The Name of The Wind is currently $11.56 on Amazon.com and £6.29 on Amazon.co.uk, The Wise Man’s Fear is currently $10.98 on Amazon.com and £6.29 on Amazon.co.uk.

Kingdom-of-Gods

Kingdom of Gods by N. K. Jemisin

The final volume of the Inheritance trilogy. It’s an interesting series; together the three books work as a cohesive whole, yet they can also be read by themselves and each is about a different set of characters. This concluding story is set a few decades after The Broken Kingdoms and is about Sieh, the godling of chidlhood. It’s again an amazing read; N.K. Jemisin has such an original and beautiful style.

Kingdom of Gods is currently $7.99 on Amazon.com and £5.99 on Amazon.co.uk.

Archangel

Archangel by Sharon Shinn

This book is the first part of the Samaria series, about the angels and mortals who live side-by-side in the world of Samaria. Legend goes that Jovah created the angels to oversee Samaria, protect humans and answer their petitions. They can pray to Jovah through song, which grants them special abilities (like making it rain). Each year the Archangel and his consort, the Angelica, need to lead the Gloria, a mass prayer to Jovah (again through song) otherwise the god would destroy the world.

The book is about a new Archangel, Gabriel, who must convince the mortal Rachel to become his consort and prepare for the Gloria. It’s an interesting read and definitely a cool premise. I didn’t like the characters that much though, but as the other instalments won’t feature these two again, I’m going to continue with it. The only thing that bugged me though is there’s a sort of summary/description about the entire series on the first page of the book which contains I think a massive spoiler/twist. I first thought they spoilt the end of this book, but it doesn’t even happen in this one! I’m a bit peeved off by that, but to be honest I think there were enough clues that I might have figured it out myself anyway (as in: I’m not sure this twist is meant as a twist for the reader or just the characters).

Archangel is currently $7.99 on Amazon.com and £2.80 (secondhand) on Amazon.co.uk.

Stormlords-Exile

Stormlord’s Exile by Glenda Larke

This is the third and final book in the Watergivers trilogy. I remember having read this and enjoying it, but honestly I don’t remember much about the story. I’m sure it was a good end to the series, but well, obviously a bit forgettable.

Stormlord’s Exile is currently $7.99 on Amazon.com and £6.89 on Amazon.co.uk.

an officers duty

An Officer’s Duty by Jean Johnson

I loved the first part of this series and this second one is even better. The first book introduced us to Ia, a woman with incredible psychic abilities who saw a vision of how the world was to end in 200 years time and all the paths leading up to that event. She knows exactly what she needs to do and what she needs to convince others to do to make sure it doesn’t happen. Her powers aren’t perfect though and in this book she has to deal with the one thing that might disrupt her plans: a man whose future she can’t see.

If I have to admit it, this series is a bit over the top and unbelievable. Ia’s powers are ridiculous; she’s telekinetic, pyrokinetic, elektrokinetic, telepathic, postcognitive and precognitive. You’d think a story about someone as “perfect” as her wouldn’t work, but despite that though it’s a great read. I can’t wait to see where the next one takes us.

An Officer’s Duty is currently $7.99 on Amazon.com and £5.24 on Amazon.co.uk.

It’s weird how sometimes a book series grows on you. I initially only started the October Daye series cause I had read Feed (also Seanan McGuire but written as Mira Grant) and wasn’t that impressed by the first book. It was fun and okay, but nothing that screamed out at me “MUST READ NEXT BOOK”. I had already bought the 2nd and 3rd books second-hand though, so I thought why not go on with it and see what I think. By the end of the third one, I was at the “ooh, I wonder what happens next” stage. Now with the 6th one I’m totally at “AWESOME. MUST READ NEXT BOOK. WTF. I HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR?!?”.

So Ashes of Honor is the 6th book in the October Daye series. If you haven’t read any of them, it’s an urban fantasy series about the half fae, half human private detective October “Toby” Daye. Toby is an awesome, kick-ass heroine, who only gets more awesomer as the series progresses. If you like urban fantasy, I can highly recommend this series (and as usual you should start at the beginning of the series with Rosemary and Rue… you also shouldn’t read further cause I’ll spoil some stuff from previous books).

In this latest installment Toby has to find the changeling daughter of fellow knight Etienne, a daughter he didn’t even know existed before she went missing. To make things worse the missing changeling also has the power to rip apart the world of Faerie, if Toby can’t find her in time. On top of that, trouble is brewing in the Court of Cats and Tybalt may need Toby’s help…

I thoroughly enjoyed Ashes of Honor. It’s yet again a Daye book that has Toby track down a missing kid, which she does with the supernatural help of the Luidaeg, but it still feels fresh somehow. The usual Toby supporting characters are all there: Quentin, Tybalt, May, the Luidaeg, Walther, Raj, Sylvester and Luna, plus we get to revisit some of characters from Tamed Lightning. Despite so many characters though the book doesn’t feel overcrowded; everyone is there for a reason.

It’s been a year since Connor died and Toby is still recovering from it. I’m glad though that McGuire has skipped forward a year, giving Toby enough time to deal with her loss, but not making the readers have to go through every single bit of it. At the start of the book Toby is still very much grieving and pushing people away, but throughout the book she slowly opens up again and let people in.

I love Tybalt and in this book he really gets to shine. I’ve always preferred him over Connor (honestly I was quite glad to see him go in the previous book) and Toby and him are great together. I quite like how McGuire is handling their relationship and so want to read more about them.

Duchess Riordan has been hinted as a potential villain in previous books and I’m glad we finally get introduced to her. I’m hoping we’ll see more of her, even though I’m not sure how that can be arranged after her fate at the end of this book. Who am I kidding? It’s Faery. Of course that will be possible. Plus she’s not the only character who I think we’ll see again.

I can’t believe I’ll have to wait almost a full year till the next comes out. McGuire has said she DAW have purchased 10 October Daye books in total from her, so there will still be at least 4 more books. The next Chimes at Midnight will be out next September. In the mean time, we can look forward to her next Incryptid book, Midnight Blue-Light Special, which will be released in March 2013.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire is available on Amazon.co.uk for £4.95 and on Amazon.com for $7.99.

Only one more day of July left! I’d been meaning to get these mini reviews out in the first week of July; ah well, better late than never. I’ve only read 12 books so far this year; that’s way below the amount of books I normally read. At this rate I’ll have read only 24 books in 2012. To compare, in 2011 I read 39, in 2010 I read 34 and in 2009 I read 41… I’ve got some serious catching up to do!

Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

This is the final book in Carey’s third trilogy set in her alternate fantasy Europe. This trilogy takes place a couple of centuries after the first two trilogies and features Moirin, a half-D’Angeline and half Maghuin Donn. In this final book Moirin and Bao sail to Terra Nova (which is basically the Aztec regions) to recover the lost crown prince of Terre d’Ange. I love the world Carey has created; she manages to blend “real” mythology/religion with her own concepts, creating some intriguing new stories.

A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson

I really enjoyed this book. It opens with Ia, a 15 year old girl, getting a terrible vision of 200 years in the future where the human race dies. However, she also sees all paths leading up to that terrible event and the one path she can take to prevent it all. The book then jumps a couple of years to an 18 year old Ia, when she joins the Terran army; certain events have to happen exactly the right way and Ia uses her precognition abilities to make sure that it all happens according to her plan, even though it costs her. What I liked here is that even though our main character knows exactly what is going to happen, you as a reader don’t. We only know something terrible is going to happen, but we don’t even know what that terrible thing is. And even during battle scenes although Ia can “see” what will happen to her, the writer manages to keep it exciting and unpredictable. It’s an interesting reversal of the typical case where the reader knows way more than the protagonist.

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

I love Seanan McGuire’s books. Her other series is the October Daye books, which has a Fae world living alongside ours (and then there is also her Newsflesh trilogy where she writes as Mira Grant; read on for my reviews below). This new book is the first part in the Incryptid series. It’s quite similar to the October Daye ones, only here instead of having the Fae living alongside us you have Cryptids. The Cryptids are creatures of which the human world isn’t completely certain whether it exists or not: think Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, vampires, etc. Our protagonist is Verity Price, a cryptozoologist: part Cryptid caretaker, part Cryptid slayer. She’s responsible for keeping New York’s Cryptid population in check, even if that might mean hunting them down. McGuire creates a fascinating world with a great heroine and I can’t wait to see her next adventures!

The Reluctant Vampire/Under a Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands

The Argeneau vampire books from Lynsay Sands are always fun to read. They’re your typical vampire romance book, but with a bit of a twist: here the “vampires” are actually nano-infected descendants of Atlantis (the nanos fix everything damaged in a body, including sun damage, and of course requires blood to work). These were book 16 and 17 and I’m still amazed how interesting Sands manages to keep this series!

The Ambassador’s Mission/The Rogue by Trudi Canavan

This is the second trilogy from Canavan that is set in the world of Kyralia and takes place 20/30 years after the first one, focusing on our main character’s son Lorkin. I didn’t like the first trilogy when I read it the first time, but loved it when I revisited it a couple of years later (strange how a couple of years can change your perspective). These first two books expand the world even more and contains a couple of twists that I didn’t exactly see coming. Very curious to see how it all ends!

Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian

This is the final book of the Midnight Breed series. And wow, what a final! I like how it finishes up all the existing story lines, yet also hints to another new potential series. Early on in the series I quite liked Chase, but as the series went on and the darker he went I began to loose interest in him. By the end of this book though I was so rooting for him again!

Deadline/Blackout by Mira Grant

I loved loved loved the first book (Feed) from this series. I didn’t think the sequels could live up to that, but, wow, I was wrong. The second book Deadline is again an awesome read and I think I might love it more than the first one. The third one is a bit of a letdown after that second book, but it still a satisfying conclusion to the entire trilogy.

Wolf Captured by Jane Lindskold

I struggled with this book. Actually I struggle with all of Lindskold’s books. I always like her stories, but there’s just written in a way that doesn’t click with my mind; I constantly have to go back and reread bits and it just generally goes slooooooow. The story is great though! This is the fourth of the six books in the Firekeeper series, and this one sees our main characters get kidnapped to another far away country. It’s great moving the plot to another place; we get different rules, different customs, different characters.

The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin

I didn’t love this book as much as Jemisin’s first book The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It still was a book though that I couldn’t put down and pretty much finished within two sittings. It’s set a couple of years after the first one, and our heroine is Oree, a blind girl, who during the aftermath of the first book gains the ability to see through magic. In the previous book we were introduced to the three main gods (Nahadoth, Enefa and Itempas) and three of their children. Here we see how much more vast the world is that Jemisin has created and we get introduced to a ton of other godlings. I like Jemisin’s take on the gods: they’re powerful, immortal beings, but each of them is inherently bound to a specific “nature”, which strengthen and restricts them. It’s an interesting read and the mythology is quite unlike any I’ve read before.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I went pretty much gadgetless for most of the past week, giving myself a much needed offline break. I will be trying to post more in this new year, but I don’t think it will ever be as much as I formerly used to write.

This year I wanted to start off the year with some 2011 retrospectives. I never got around to reviewing each of the books I read the past year, but I thought the least I could do was make a list of everything I read. This year I managed 39 books, which on average means I read 0.75 book per week (or 1 book per 1.3 weeks). Not too bad, if I say so myself. Let’s see if I can aim for more than 40 next year!

Highlights for me this year were The Hunger Games trilogy (well, actually only the first book, the rest I found a bit disappointing), Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series (Rosemary and Rue is the first one, if you’re interested) and George R. R. Martin’s A Dance of Dragons. So what books did you read this year? What were your favourites?

Read In 2011

Storm Glass
Sea Glass
Spy Glass
The Poison Throne
Hungry for You
Born of Night
Born of Fire
Born of Ice
The Dragon of Despair
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Mockingjay
Graceling
Lover Unleashed
The Darkest Secret
Born of Shadows
Atlantis Betrayed
A Feast for Crows
Naamah's Curse
The Thirteenth House
Dark Moon Defender
Reader and Raelynx
Fortune and Fate
Shalador's Lady
Thirteen Orphans
Taken by Midnight
Deeper Than Midnight
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
The High King's Tomb
Heart Search
Late Eclipses
One Salt Sea
A Dance With Dragons
Stormlord Rising
Defeat the Darkness
Bound by Darkness
Twilight's Dawn



Melinda Seckington’s favorite books »

In 2014, two experimental viruses—a genetically engineered flu strain designed by Dr. Alexander Kellis, intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and a cancer-killing strain of Marburg, known as “Marburg Amberlee”—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks.

I’ve seen my fair share of zombie movies, but when it comes to books, I’ve never actually read any zombie-themed stories (although I’m not counting fantasy series with living dead type monsters, I mean proper zombies-in-our-universe). So I don’t have that much to compare this book to besides the movies. One thing though that almost always annoys me in zombie films is that most characters have no idea how to deal with zombies or have never even heard of them. It’s as if they’re in a world where zombie movies don’t exist. Or it’s set in a apocalyptic future where zombies are threatening to take over.

In Feed that’s quite different. It’s set 20 years after a “zombie” outbreak; this is a world where people grew up with zombie movies and have adapted to a different way of living to deal with the outbreak. The zombie virus is dormant in every living person and can get activated when it comes in contact with the live virus (aka the zombies). Besides that it also gets activated if you die. Now think about it: how would this change the world you live in?

Mira Grant takes that idea and fleshes it out. Buildings require blood tests before entering, being a doctor is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and George, Georgina and Georgette are popular kids names (because of George Romero in case you didn’t get why). I loved discovering how this world works; Grant has created an interesting future and I wonder if there was a zombie outbreak how close to the truth this could be.

The story is about a blogger Georgia, who together with her brother Shaun and their friend Buffy, is invited to cover a senator’s presidential campaign. They slowly discover a conspiracy… Yeah, it sounds a bit cheesy, but before I knew it, I got so invested in Georgia’s story. First book in a long time that made me cry and that’s a tough thing to do.

What didn’t completely work for me was how the blogging and online world was explained. In the future every blogger fits a certain category; you have the Newsies, those who write up the news and are objective about it; the Stewarts, those who comment on the news; the Irwins, adventure/action/zombie-antagonizing bloggers; the Fictionals, those who write stories or poetry (including of course fan fiction); and finally the Aunties, recipe/mummy/lifestory bloggers. Then there was the way each blog had ratings and a spot in the uber list of rankings, as if it was more kindred to traditional broadcast media. Also: no mention of Twitter, but I’m guessing this book was written before that hit. It doesn’t diminish the reading experience, but I wished this was a little more similar to reality.

I really enjoyed Feed and I’m now really curious to what else Mira Grant has written (this is her first book as Grant, but she also writes as Seanan McGuire). Feed has a great story, which sucks you completely in. And it’s got a fascinating world to discover along the way.

Feed by Mira Grant – Available on Amazon.co.uk for £5.49 and on Amazon.com for $9.99.

Shale is the lowest of the low-an outcast from a poor village in the heart of the desert. In the desert water is life, and currency, and Shale has none. But he has a secret. It’s the one thing that keeps him alive and may save all the cities of the Quartern in the days to come. If it doesn’t get him killed first…

Terelle is a slave fleeing a life as a courtesan. She finds shelter in the home of an elderly painter but as she learns the strange and powerful secrets of his art she fears she may have traded a life of servitude for something far more perilous…

The Stormlord is dying in his tower and there is no one, by accident or design, to take his place. He brings the rain from the distant seas to his people. Without a Stormlord, the cities of the Quartern will wither and die.

Their civilization is at the brink of disaster. If Shale and Terelle can find a way to save themselves, they may just save them all. Water is life and the wells are running dry…

I always love it when a fantasy book has some proper world building. Instead of going down the familiar route of alternative middle ages, I prefer it when fantasy series try something a little different. In The Last Stormlord it’s all about water.

Water has become so rare that the entire community is built around it. There once was a time when people were dependent on random rain and they barely survived that era. Then the Stormlords came and water became regulated. The Stormlords would pull water from the clouds and shift them to the cities that needed it. Each city and each citizen receives an alloted amount of water, unless you live on the outskirts or in the slums and aren’t a ‘proper’ citizen.

But at the start of this book we find out the current Stormlord is dying and there is no replacement. As the Stormlord grows weaker decisions have to be made: which cities get water and which get cut off? It’s an interesting premise and Larke does a great job describing the class divide and the harsh choices the characters must make.

There are 3 different story lines at the start, which (of course) all merge at a certain point. The first is about those around the failing Stormlord: his son Nealrith, rainlord in his own right, but not strong enough to be a stormlord; and Ryka and Kaneth, two rainlords who are forced to marry to heighten their chances of a Stormlord offspring. The second is about Terelle, a girl sold to a ‘snuggery’ (read: whorehouse) but flees before she’s forced into a life she doesn’t want. And then there’s Shale, a boy with water powers, enough to maybe be a Stormlord some day.

I really enjoyed this book, although it was a whole lot bleaker than I expected it to be. Larke raises some interesting moral dilemmas and makes you wonder what you’d do in that type of situation. I can’t wait till the next book comes out! I so want to know how this story continues…

The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke is available on Amazon.co.uk for £5.58 and on Amazon.com for $7.99

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is about Yeine, a 19 year old girl, who wants nothing more than a normal life in her homeland of Darr. But her mother was of the powerful Arameri family, and when Yeine is summoned to the capital city of Sky a month after her mother’s death, she cannot refuse. Dakarta, her grandfather and the Arameri patriarch, pits her against her two cousins as a potential heir to the throne.

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

This book was awesome! The description above doesn’t do the book justice at all, yet it’s so tricky to explain this world of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It’s so complex and rich in mythology, and one of the great parts of the book is slowly discovering the different facets. Yeine doesn’t know anything about the world of the Arameri and we, as readers, slowly discover as she learns about her heritage. Jemisin has managed to tell a unique origin story of the gods of this world, and it doesn’t compare to anything I’ve read before.

In short, the backstory told at the start of the book is this: there were once 3 gods, who lived in harmony, Bright Itempas, the Nightlord Nahadoth and the goddess of twilight and death, Enefa. But Itempas was betrayed by Enefa and Nahadoth, so he killed Enefa and enslaved Nahadoth. Nahadoth and his 3 god children all got trapped in mortal bodies and were given to the rulers of the Hundred Thousand kingdoms to be used as weapons. Yeine soon encounters these ‘weapons’ at her grandfather’s court, who have to obey everything the ruling family says.

The story is told from Yeine’s perspective, albeit a bit of a weird perspective. From the start, you know there’s something not completely right. For instance, here are the first couple of lines from the book:

I am not as I once was. They have done this to me, broken me open and torn out my heart. I do not know who I am anymore.

I must try to remember.

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My people tell stories of the night I was born. They say my mother crossed her legs in the middle of labor and fought with all her strength not to release me into the world. I was born anyhow, of course; nature cannot be denied. Yet it does not surprise me that she tried.

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My mother was an heiress of the Arameri. There was a ball for the lesser nobility — the sort of thing that happens once a decade as a backhanded sop to their self-esteem. My father dared ask my mother to dance; she deigned to consent. I have often wondered what he said and did that night to make her fall in love with him so powerfully, for she eventually abdicated her position to be with him. It is the stuff of great tales, yes? Very romantic. In the tales, such a couple lives happily ever after. The tales do not say what happens when the most powerful family in the world is offended in the process.

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But I forget myself. Who was I, again? Ah, yes.

And it continues like that throughout the book. Yeine will be telling you something and she’ll suddenly interrupt with a completely different thought or tell you about another event. It doesn’t happen too often for it to get annoying; it only makes you more interested in what happened to her.

I loved how different this book was; the gods, the world, everything just works in this book. It’s the first part of a trilogy, but I don’t think it’s trilogy in the usual sense; the 2nd seems to be set in the same world, and will continue the story, but with different characters. Intrigued?

If you’re not convinced yet, you can read the first three chapters on the author’s website.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin is available on Amazon.co.uk for £5.58 and on Amazon.com for $10.07.

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