Sunday Status

The in-laws have left to go back to the west coast, and as expected, I didn’t get much reading done this week. I did read I’m Not Dying With You Tonight in preparation for Barnes & Noble’s Young Adult Book Club last Thursday, but then Trump decided he was going to go to the GOP House Retreat at the hotel behind my local Barnes & Noble THAT SAME NIGHT so I didn’t go anywhere near the area that day! Grrrrr. But I should get a review of that up sometime soon. Probably Thursday. Tuesday’s Top Ten is my favorite things to eat or drink while reading, so I’ll be writing that up tomorrow. I’m hoping to dive right back in now that I don’t have house guests, but I DO still have the Maryland Renaissance Festival taking up my weekends, so I might still skip a day here and there.

I’ll just leave you with a sample of Baltimore’s welcome for Trump:

trumprat

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Sunday Sabbatical

It’s not quite a sabbatical, but, well. Alliteration. Anyway! I thought I’d have posts scheduled for this week, but between Fair kicking my ass on Monday, preparing for my in-laws to arrive on Tuesday, and RECOVERING from Fair kicking my ass (chronic illness = loooooong recovery times), I’ve done very little reading. Very little reading = nothing to review! So I won’t be posting much this week – I don’t even know if there will be a Library Loot Wednesday or a Friday 56, and those are two of my easiest posts!

minecraft
This might also be influenced by finding out a good friend of ours really likes Minecraft, so we’ve set up a modded server (he’s always played vanilla!) and I miiiiiight be spending a little too much time on that. Whoops. It’s a little less brain-intensive than reading, though, and that’s what I’ve needed this week.

I won’t get much reading done this coming week, because the in-laws will be here. So this might be close to a two-week break, but I’ll reassess on Sunday, a week from today, and we’ll see. i'll be back

Book Review: Shatter the Sky

shatter the skyShatter the Sky
by Rebecca Kim Wells
Young Adult / Fantasy
294 pages
Published July 2019

I saw this described as “angry bisexual dragon riders” and while I didn’t know if the bisexual applied to the dragons or to the riders, I really didn’t care. Either way, I NEEDED THIS.

It’s fantastic. It’s a -little- simplistic, but I loved it anyway. Maren loves her girlfriend, Kaia, and when Kaia is abducted by the emperor’s prophetic servants to be inducted into their ranks, she gets mad. She would have been happy to live a quiet life with Kaia, but instead our girl’s going to BURN IT ALL DOWN. You’d think prophets could avoid this drastic misstep, but then we wouldn’t have a book!

Maren is biracial; her father is from down the mountain, from a more accepted ethnicity, while her mother is Verran. Verrans used to be dragon riders, but the emperor stole their dragons and refuses to let any Verrans near them for fear the dragons will go back to them. Maren is able to disguise herself as Zefedi, her father’s ethnicity, to get work in the fortress where dragons are hatched and trained. Her Verran ancestry gives her some advantages with working with the dragons, though.

There’s a bit of a love triangle, though it could turn into a polyamorous situation. I’m obviously hoping for the latter, but we’ll have to wait for the second book, Storm the Earth, to find out.

Sexuality in this book was very matter-of-fact – Kaia has two moms, absolutely no one has a problem with two women being together. Lovers/spouses are called Heartmates, rather than anything gender-specific. I love it so much when fantasy books do this! And Heartmates is a BEAUTIFUL term that I adore.

I really enjoyed Maren rediscovering dragon lore – I find it a little unbelievable that the Verrans didn’t keep some secrets passed around under the nose of the emperor, but I suppose even if they did, that doesn’t mean some random village girl would know about it. So Maren has to learn it all for herself.

To sum up: LOVE this book. Cannot WAIT for the sequel!

From the cover of Shatter the Sky:

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia – until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory – the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground . . . .

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

Friday 56 – Periodic Tales

periodic talesThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

This week’s quote is from Periodic Tales: a Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc.

On another website, Theodore Gray’s periodic table is a masterpiece of the carpenter’s art – he will even sell you a periodic table table. The story of each element lies on the other side of an engraved wooden portal. Once past this timber threshold, there are beautiful images of the element and its minerals and details of where and how he obtained them. The sources are sometimes exotic, but more often very ordinary: his cerium comes from a camp-fire starter bought from Walmart, his bromine in the form of sodium bromide used to salt the water in hot-tubs. He also accepts donations. ‘A lot of people seem to have an element or two in their attic,’ he notes laconically on the site. ‘By the way, if you have any depleted Uranium from Afghanistan, I could use it.’

Book Review: New Suns

new sunsNew Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color
Edited by Nisi Shawl
Short stories / Sci-Fi / Fantasy
279 pages
Published March 2019

This was quite the collection! I disagree with the cover description’s use of “unexpected brilliance” – I think that’s actually slightly insulting, and possibly racist. (Who wrote that line?!) I fully expected the brilliance I got, and was very pleased with it!

From the forward by Levar Burton, through stories by Hispanic, Black, Asian, and Indigenous authors, all the way to the Afterword from Nisi Shawl, this was an amazing, fascinating, mind-blowing book. Rebecca Roanhorse is probably the most well-known of the authors, thanks to Trail of Lightning, but Indrapramit Das wrote The Devourers, which I’ve heard about and have on my Kindle but have not yet read, and Steven Barnes is married to another author I’ve read, Tananarive Due. Silvia Moreno-Garcia wrote the recently released Gods of Jade and Shadow, which I picked up through Book of the Month in July but have again, not yet read. Library books keep taking priority over things I own!

Going through the biographies in the back of the book makes me want to add EVERYTHING to my TBR – with titles like The Sea is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia, Will Do Magic For Small Change, and The Beast With Nine Billion Feet, how could I not?!

Back to the book itself, though! There are 17 stories in this book, ranging from 5 pages to 20-30 pages. I think my favorite was “The Freedom of the Shifting Sea” by Jaymee Goh, about an Asian mermaid, but the one just before it, “Burn the Ships,” about indigenous South Americans fighting back with blood magic against Spaniards, was also amazing. (Written by Alberto Yáñez.) Really all of the stories are spell-binding, though. And the variety is VAST. From a story retelling The Emperor’s New Clothes, in three variations, to Earth becoming a tourist destination for galactics (aliens), to a story imagining what we would be like with computers in our heads to keep us from having destructive emotions, these are wildly imaginative and thought-provoking.

I love reading short story anthologies because they always introduce me to new authors I want to read more of, which this book unequivocally did. I also have more reason to read Gods of Jade and Shadow now!

This should be on the reading list of every spec fic fan. I’m going to leave you with the quote that begins the book and inspired the title, from one of the mothers of modern science fiction, Octavia Butler:

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.”

From the cover of New Suns:

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and cliches, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

Library Loot Wednesday

Three books this week that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time now! Shatter the Sky was billed as “angry bisexual dragon riders” which – yes, that’s relevant to my interests. A Memory Called Empire is apparently Aztecs in Space? Which sounds fascinating. It’s also by a local author, or rather, was. She’s moving to New Mexico very soon, according to her website! I kept seeing her name on local author events, but hadn’t read the book yet. Of course this is how the timing works out. Ah, well. The last book, amusingly picked up on the same day I turned Hollow Kingdom back in, is The Storm Crow – fantasy with crow riders. Turn a crow book in, check a crow book out. I’m happy with that!