Science Fiction · YA

Nyxia Unleashed – Scott Reintgen

4 stars

The sequel to last year’s NyxiaNyxia Unleashed is just as fun and satisfying as the first.

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Cover from Goodreads

Getting to Eden brought Emmett and his crewmates one step closer to their promised fortune. But surviving Eden may be the biggest reward of all. Discover book two in the trilogy Marie Lu called, “a high-octance thriller.”

Emmett Atwater thought Babel’s game sounded easy. Get points. Get paid. Go home. But it didn’t take long for him to learn that Babel’s competition was full of broken promises, none darker or more damaging than the last one.

Now Emmett and the rest of the Genesis survivors must rally and forge their own path through a new world. Their mission from Babel is simple: extract nyxia, the most valuable material in the universe, and play nice with the indigenous Adamite population.

But Emmett and the others quickly realize they are caught between two powerful forces—Babel and the Adamites—with clashing desires. Will the Genesis team make it out alive before it’s too late?

Nyxia Unleashedis the third book in the Nyxia triad (not a trilogy?) by Scott Reintgen, and manages not to suffer from middle-book syndrome. The book manages to be more than getting us from point A to point B, despite the fact that much of the book is the team literally moving from points A to B.

Emmett is once again the star of the book and has grown into himself. He’s got a clear moral compass and is letting that be his guide in an unfamiliar world with unfamiliar people and customs. More than ever, his code of honor drives him and his decisions.

Through the description of the ring caste system, and how Emmett and his peers engage with it, Nyxia Unleashed offers a lens through which we can view our own world. We already know from the first book that the Genesis crew is made up of kids from the poorest backgrounds from all over the globe. That backstory informs how they interact with the Adamites – despite the show the Adamites want to offer them. It is however, a little over simplified and comes across a little heavy handed. I prefer my social commentary to be more subtle.

Heavy handed (valid) social commentary aside, Nyxia Unleashed was an action packed adventure full of wild landscapes, beasts and other more familiar dangers. Nicely paced, Nyxia Unleashed is full of tension, but won’t leave you desperate for a massage in the wake of the action.

Nyxia Unleashed is available in stores and online on July 17, 2018.

Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. 

*This post contains affiliate links. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing this book using my affiliate link. 

 

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Blog Housekeeping · Giveaway

One Year of Blogging + Giveaway!

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I am delighted to be celebrating my one-year blogiversary! A year ago, I started blogging on a whim. Nearly 125 posts later, this little blog has grown so much!

Thank you for reading, commenting, and engaging! I appreciate each and every person who has spent time in this little corner of the internet with me.

But, what’s an anniversary without a GIVEAWAY!?!

To celebrate, I’m giving away copies of some of my favorite books!

There will be five winners, randomly drawn on July 25.

  • Winner 1 will receive a paperback copy of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.
  • Winner 2 will receive a hardback copy of Last First Snow by Max Gladstone.
  • Winner 3 will receive an ARC of Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse.
  • Winner 4 will receive a kindle version of In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan.
  • Winner 5 will recieve a kindle version of Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee.

How to Enter

  1. Follow this blog
  2. Comment below with which prize you’re most interested in winning (no guarantees though!) (be sure to include the email with which you follow this blog in the email field so I can verify and contact you if you win!)

Bonus Entries

  1. One bonus entry for sharing this post publicly on Facebook.
  2. One bonus entry for retweeting this post on Twitter.

To claim your bonus entries, come back to this post to comment that you have done so, and what your usernames are for doing so. Those comments will not be published.

Eligibility

To win, you MUST follow this blog. Open to residents of the US and Canada. European/Australian residents may enter if they indicate they are willing to pay for shipping.

Winners have 48 hours to respond to my email.

Fantasy

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

5 Stars

The Fifth Season was told in three timelines, within the scope of a lifetime. The Stone Sky spans millennia. We finally learn the history of the Stoneaters and the Seasons.

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Cover from Goodreads

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

If the fact that The Broken Earth trilogy is about race has escaped you in the first two books, it’s absolutely inescapable in The Stone Sky. Millennia of oppression, enslavement, and othering is examined in stark detail in The Stone Sky and it’s impossible to deny the equivalencies (not perfect, not exact) in our own world.

It’s also about love, survival and the arrogance of the human race. The story of the end of the world is disconcertingly recognizable.

The story of Syl Anagist is the story of the West’s own arrogance and racism. How we punish those who don’t fit the idealized set of standards of beauty and race. How we treat the earth as a resource to be endlessly tapped, rather than as a living planet. How our own beliefs and the society we’ve built around them are going to be our own downfall.

Nassun’s story is about love, and the lengths we go to for those that we love. She has seen the corruption and has decided that her love trumps everything else and that she is going to destroy that which has hurt those she loves.

Essun’s story is one of survival. Love has its place in the survival narrative, but living one day to the next and thinking about survival beyond just your own years takes its toll.

Once again, Robin Miles’ amazing narration is an amazing additional layer to the story of The Stone Sky and I heartily recommend the audiobook from Audible.

*This post contains affiliate links. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing this book using my affiliate link. 

Fantasy

Spinning Silver – Naomi Novik

5 Stars

You may think you know the story of Rumpelstiltskin, but you’ve never seen the story like this! Spinning Silver is a wonderful way to beat the summer heat.

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Cover from Goodreads

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.

Miryem may be able to turn silver into gold but that’s just about where the resemblance to the classic tale of Rumpelstiltskin begins and ends. This is a story about women, power, and what happens when women grab hold of power – in its many forms.

Spinning Silver* is another masterful work from Uprooted author Naomi Novik. It originally began life as a short story, published in The Starlit Wood anthology edited by Navah Wolfe and Dominik Parisien, the duo behind the Robots vs Fairies anthology I have previously reviewed. I loved that first short story as it was, but am delighted by what it grew into.

Novik weaves together many different perspectives of events as they unfold and gives readers a deep understanding of the perils and perspectives of different powers within. Miryem is cold and hard because she has to be, in order to avoid poverty. Wanda is stoic and strong because she has to be, in order to avoid the beatings of her father. Irina is clever and decisive because otherwise, she is simply a political pawn. These strong women are the backbone upon which Spinning Silver is constructed, and each shows a different kind of strength.

The fact that Miryem and her family are Jewish is a thread woven throughout the story. Safety is a tenuous thing, and how Miryem and her family are treated comes up time and again. But as much as their Jewishness is a source of danger and a social barrier, it is also beautiful and hopeful. Miryem and her family find strength, hope and power in their scripture, prayers and rituals.

Fans of Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower will feel right at home between these pages as well. Novik doesn’t tell the same story, of course, but something with the same feel of snow and magic and wonder.

Spinning Silver is both nostalgic and new and fresh at the same time. Novik kept me guessing throughout and still surprised me at the end. At the same time, it had the feel of falling into a story that I’d read before, familiar and comforting.

The masterpiece that is Spinning Silver is available for purchase on July 10, 2018.

Thank you to Del Rey for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. 

*This post contains affiliate links. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing this book using my affiliate link. 

Cookbook

Go Kamado – JJ Boston

4 Stars

A little over a year ago, I purchased my first house. As my housewarming gift, my parents gave my husband and I a custom painted, robin’s egg blue kamado that my father had found and rehabbed. Growing up, we had always cooked on “the egg” a Big Green Egg that has become like the family religion. Kamados are so similar in design and use as to be nearly interchangeable. I’m a life-long learner, so when I saw Go Kamado come up on NetGalley, my curiosity was certainly piqued.

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Cover from Goodreads

An authoritative introduction to the ceramic kamado-style grill, with over 100 recipes for grilling, smoking, and baking, as well as practical guidance on grill use and maintenance.

You’ve got the grill–now get the skills. Learn how to grill, smoke, roast, and bake on the amazing, egg-shaped kamado grill. Backyard entertaining will never be the same once you unlock the potential of this versatile cooker. With thick ceramic walls that hold in and radiate heat, the kamado grill is the only device you need for smoking succulent brisket, grilling perfectly cooked steaks, roasting flavorful turkey, and even baking homemade bread.

Grilling expert Chef JJ Boston has built his business around teaching people how to use kamado grills, and now you can learn his simple techniques to make mouthwatering meals on your kamado. Discover the difference between direct and indirect grilling, master the art of smoking with high and low heat, and learn how to infuse your food with irresistible smoked flavor. With step-by-step instruction on cooking techniques, tips on grill maintenance, and more than 100 delicious recipes, Go Kamado is the only guide you need to get the most from your grill.

Go Kamado is the beginner’s essential playbook. Chef JJ starts off by explaining the basics: How a kamado is constructed; how to adjust the temperature using the vents; grilling; smoking; roasting; and baking. A kamado is truly a versatile grill.

The recipes included span from quick Asian inspired tacos to reverse-seared ribeyes and smoked briskets that take all day. They’re written in both Imperial and Metric measurements and in a friendly, easy to understand way. Chef JJ makes using all of the kamado’s cooking styles feel accessible and possible even for beginners.

Just as much care is given to flavor and texture as is given to the technical instruction. The recipes are flavorful and inventive, instead of being sixteen kinds of BBQ sauce on meat. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still a lot of BBQ sauce and this book is full of meat, but that’s not ALL there is. There’s even soup!

Go Kamado is the book I’ll be cooking out of all summer long. If you or someone you know have a kamado, Big Green Egg or other egg-shaped ceramic grill, Go Kamado will be the essential book for summer grilling, smoking, roasting and baking.

Go Kamado is available now!

Thank you to DK Publishing for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Blog Housekeeping · That Reading Life

June Challenge Progress Report!

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The year is half over, and where did it go? How am I doing on my 2018 Reading Challenges?

My Goodreads Reading Challenge goal is 175 books, and so far I’ve completed 95/175. GR tells me I’m 7 books ahead of schedule. I lost a little bit of my lead, down from 12 ahead. I kind of expected that though; contrary to popular sentiment, I get less reading done in the summer months because I’m so busy outdoors!

Let’s check in on the Literary (&) Lacquers Reading Bingo, over in the Literary Lacquers facebook fan group. So far I’ve checked off 8/16 prompts, so I’m right on track for halfway done, though I didn’t check anything new off. (If you participate, there are discounts for completion!)

  • A Graphic Novel – Paper Girls Vol. 1
  • A Book Written by an Author of Color – Markswoman
  • A Book With a Green Cover – The Book of Life
  • A Book Written by an Author From A Different Country – The Illuminae Files
  • A Book With a Color in the Title – The Black Tides of Heaven 
  • A Book That’s Been on Your TBR for Over a Year – A Conjuring of Light 
  • A Book About a Topic That Makes You Uncomfortable – Anger is a Gift
  • A Book Set in a Non-English Speaking Country – Bookburners

*On to the Book Riot Read Harder challenge, where I’ve made no new progress this month. 6/24, still behind. I need to start actively looking for books to meet the different criteria.

  • A Book About Nature – Our Native Bees
  • The First in a New To You YA or Middle-Grade Series – Markswoman
  • A Comic Written or Illustrated by a Person of Color – Paper Girls Vol. 2
  • A Sci-fi Novel With a Female Protagonist by a Female Author – The Tea Master and the Detective
  • A Book With A Cover You Hate – Lustlocked
  • A One Sitting Book – A Court of Frost and Starlight
  • A Comic That Isn’t Published by Marvel, DC or Image – Wires & Nerve Vol 2.

I’ve made more progress for Popsugar’s Reading Challenge. 22/47, a bit behind. I need to start actively looking for books to meet the different criteria.

I am also participating in my local library’s 10 To Read challenge and made no progress this month. 4/10

  • A Young Adult Book – Godsgrave
  • A Book Set in a Place You’ve Never Been – Tricks for Free
  • A Book About Food – Acid Trip
  • A Biography
  • A Banned Book
  • A Book by a Native American Author – Trail of Lightning
  • A Book Recommended by KCLS Staff
  • A Book in Translation
  • A Book That’s Been Made Into A Movie or TV Show

I did my fifth buddy read of The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone with my blogging buddy Marzie. Check out the discussion posts of Four Roads Cross. Look for our reviews and discussion posts of book six, Ruin of Angels later this month!

The Hugo nominees were announced last month, and I’ve started to chip away at the reading. Voting opened last month and is open through the end of July. The list of nominees is here.

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

  • Best Novel
    • Raven Stratagem
    • The Stone Sky
  • Best Novella
    • Down Among The Sticks and Bones
    • The Black Tides of Heaven
  • Best Novelette
    • “Children of Thorns, Children of Water”
  • Best Short Story
    • Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience TM
  • Best Graphic Story
    • Bitch Planet, Vol 2: President Bitch
    • Monstress, Vol 2: The Blood
  • Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form
    • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    • Thor: Ragnarok
    • Wonderwoman
  • Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form
    • The Good Place, Michael’s Gambit
    • The Good Place, The Trolley Problem
  • Best Series
    • InCryptid
      • All of it, even the short stories
    • The Memoirs of Lady Trent
      • A Natural History of Dragons
      • Voyage of the Basilisk
      • In the Labyrinth of Drakes
    • The Books of the Raksura
      • The Cloud Roads
      • The Serpent Sea
      • The Siren Depths
  • Best YA (Not A Hugo)
    • In Other Lands

I…..still have a LOT of reading ahead of me, since voting closes THIS MONTH!!!

In addition to all that, I am hosting an 11-book Read Along of the entire October Daye series as we prepare for book #12 Night and Silence to release in September. Over in the Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant Fans group on Facebook (which I help admin), we’re discussing one book every three weeks. We’ve made it through books 1-6 and will be tackling book 7, Chimes at Midnight on June 3.

What have you been reading this month?

Fantasy · historical fiction · YA

Smoke and Iron – Rachel Caine

4 Stars

Happy bookday to Smoke and IronThe fourth in the five-book The Great Library series by Rachel Caine is a strong entry in the series. Like many avid readers, I’m like a moth to a flame with books set in and around libraries.

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Cover from Goodreads 

To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and BonePaper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making…if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

I previously reviewed book 3 in the series, Ash and Quill. The rebellion against the Archivist reaches a fever pitch and it’s impossible not to see the parallels between our raggedy cast’s struggle for the soul of the Great Library and the political turmoil in the United States.

How do we separate something we love from its leadership? How do Jess and Morgan and Khalila and the rest of the main cast of characters separate the Great Library from the Archivist and his cabinet of corrupt leadership? How do Americans separate love for country from a Congress and President that care more for short-term power than for the long-term good of the country’s people and land? How do you convince others of that same separation in hopes of saving the institution while dismantling the corrupt head, and hopefully garnering their aid? Or, if not aid, at least their lack of opposition?

These meaty questions are the same that our central cast must wrestle with as they move forward in their plot to overthrow the corruption at the core of the Great Library. Can they save that which they love, without losing life, limb and love?

Rachel Caine is a master at making each book in a series feel like an escalation to the Final Battle and pulling a surprise twist at the end that results in another book. Her Morganville Vampires series did this to my frustration, and I abandoned the series without finishing it. The Great Library series, however, will end in the fifth and final book. The upside of this talent is that books in the middle of series rarely feel like filler books. Rather, each is important in the larger story and really can’t be skipped.

Smoke and Iron* is in stores today!

I received an eARC from Berkley in exchange for my honest review. 

*This post contains affiliate links. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing this book using my affiliate link.