In theory I don't try to read one genre exclusively because a good story is a good story... In practice however I find myself reading Fantasy and (more recently) Sci-fi again and again. I read for fun and to entertain myself.
I finished seven books and one short-story this month. Or around 3000 pages, which is pretty good for me.
Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold was the first one I finished. It's part of the Vorkosigan Saga which I'm trying to read in a more or less chronological order rather than the publication order. Hence, this is the seventh book I've read in the saga, although it was published third. And technically I could have skipped it. It plays in the same universe as the other Vorkosigan books but Miles Vorkosigan makes no appearance. Instead we meet one of his mercenaries, Ellie Quinn, last seen in The Warrior's Apprentice.
The protagonist this time is Ethan, who's, you guessed it, from the planet of Athos. A planet where only men live. Yep, Bujold subverts the women-only planet trope with this book. Not quite as well as I had hoped, because she makes it really easy by writing off the heterosexuals as being celibate and content. Therefore Athos comes across as a kind of utopia for gay men, which just isn't realistic.
Other than that, it's an entertaining novel, just nothing special and I gave it 3 stars.
Next was The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin who I think is a very talented writer. If you're tired of the common middle age fantasy written by white male authors, you should read her books.
It's the sequel to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and part of the Inheritance Trilogy. It's not your usual kind of trilogy because the protagonists change each time, but the books do follow each other chronological, just mainly new players.
The book was pretty great... until the end. Jemisin usually stays away from writing clichés, but that ending...
Still, if you liked the first book, definitely pick up the second book.
3 1/2 stars.
Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler is the second book in the Xenogenisis Trilogy and if I'm honest doesn't add much to the first book. Most of the book we spend time with Akin, who is the son of Lilith Iyapo, the protagonist of the first book. I don't want to spoil anything, but if you've read the first book, then you know there's a... conflict of interests... and basically the purpose of the book is to find a possible solution. So there really isn't much progress. Nonetheless a good novel, if you aren't too squeamish. I mean, it's Octavia Butler, after all and she does like to push some boundaries. 3 stars.
I've already written a review of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison where I was mainly annoyed by the synopsis on Goodreads for describing it as
fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent
which it really isn't. It's rather a coming of age story with a very likeable character. Seriously, if you don't like Maia... What's wrong with you? He carries this novel, because the plot is mediocre and the other characters could have used some more depth. That said, I still really liked the novel and you should definitely read it. 3 1/2 stars.
I've had my copy of Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton for about 2 years and let me tell you, it's huge. So I was intimidated for quite a while and didn't want to start it. Which is ridiculous, coming from someone who once read three Steven Erikson novels in a row.
Anyway, I'm glad I finally read it. The start was a bit slow and I was confused why he was writing about terrorists and a murder case when there's a space ship on the cover but once everything started to fit together, it was amazing. Except that one storyline, which I hate. I hope it pays off in the sequel.
My only gripe with this novel is the amount of detail. I mean, it's admiring how much work Hamilton has put into the worldbuilding, but do I really need to know the entire backstory of every planet? No, I do not and it's what slowed down the novel so much.
Nonetheless, if you're into Space Opera, don't miss out on this! 4 stars.
I jumped onto the Gillian Flynn bandwagon and read Gone Girl. It was not what I expected. I thought this would be about a murderer (okaaay it kind of is) not about a fucked-up marriage.
I don't even know what to say about this one. I liked it, I thought it was entertaining, but it's not amazing. However, full disclosure, I don't really read thrillers or mystery novels. I've read like two others, which according to Goodreads I liked more than Gone Girl. Huh.
I gave it 3 stars.
So this is the short story I read this month. Or novella, whatever. Anyway, The Churn by James S. A. Corey is part of the Expanse Series (which I love) and tells the origin story of Amos Burton, one of the main characters of the series.
When we meet Amos, whose name isn't Amos yet, I did not recognize him. He's such a vastly different person that I really want to know more about how he became the present Amos. I swear I was convinced he was simple minded. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.
I gave it only 3 stars because like Gods at Risk, a short story set after the second book, it doesn't really add that much to the series. They are interesting tidbits, nothing more.
Lastly, I finally finished The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman in September. This isn't the first book I've read by the author and frankly I was so annoyed with this one. After When Christ and his Saints slept I expected so much better than what I got.
This novel is about Richard III and Penman does her most to portray him as positive as possible. This didn't always work because Penman also does her best to be as historically accurate as possible. I think this was best demonstrated when he ordered the immediate execution of Hastings. This event really happened but I found it out of character for the fictional Richard.
So at times the novel's historical accuracy was both its strenght and weakness.
But I mentioned being annoyed. That's because I absolutely hated the portrayal of the Woodvilles and especially that of Elizabeth. I want to remind you that this is a novel about real people, yet the Woodvilles felt as real as a Disney villain would. Everyone hated them and everyone called Elizabeth a bitch - repeatedly. And Penman made damn sure that even the reader would know what kind of bitch Elizabeth was because she had not one single redeeming character trait. If you've read A Song of Ice and Fire let me tell you this... Cersei Lannister is a more sympathetic character than Elizabeth Woodville. That's how bad this character was. And to make her seem even worse, the other main female character naturally had to be a saint. I'm talking about Anne Neville who was so fucking selfless that even while she was dying her only concern was for Richard. I mean seriously. Reading Anne Nevilles POV was at times like reading some YA romance novel where the main character does nothing but moon over her love interest. Anne was just all about Richard. Ugh.
Speaking of POV. Why would any author think that it's a good idea to switch the POV within a paragraph?? Penman did that constantly and it was so annoying. 2 stars.