Book Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

(5/5 stars)  I’m not sure where I heard of Akata Witch; it was probably one of my podcasts. I was just excited to read a fantasy novel based on a magic system from a non-European mythology. I did not know it was a YA novel, though, and I was very delightfully surprised by what I found.

The story structure and plot aren’t exceptionally different from other stories of this sort: a young outsider learns that she has a destiny and finds camaraderie in a community of other outcasts.  But the characters are fun and interesting. The culture is lush and fascinating.  And the magic system is scary and fascinating.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book quite a lot. 

Parasite (Parasitology, #1) By Mira Grant

(2/5 stars) Strange, inconsistent characterization in the main character combined with an extremely predictable plot made this a distinctly un-entertaining read for me.  You can pretty much guess everything about this book from the summary on Amazon:

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite — a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the Intestinal Bodyguard worm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system — even secretes designer drugs. It’s been successful beyond the scientists’ wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives . . . and will do anything to get them.

If you want a book about parasites taking people over, I would recommend The Girl with All the Gifts instead.  And in my parasite hobbyist’s opinion, I think the chosen parasite in The Girl with All the Gifts makes more sense than a genetically modified tapeworm.

Book Review: Outpost (Donovan #1) by W. Michael Gear

(5/5 stars)  I have mixed feelings about this book. I didn’t LOVE it, but I kind of loved it. 

Donovan is an alien world on the backside of nowhere and owned by The Corporation which intended to mine its plentiful mineral deposits.  Unfortunately, Donovan is the Australia of space and everything on the planet wants to kill people.  So, in the years since the last supply drop, the population of Donovan has made do with what they have and many of them have grown to despise life under The Corporation’s thumb. So, when a new corporate supervisor comes to the planet, things get… awkward.

Donovan is a dangerous and truly alien world. The universe the characters occupy is interesting and detailed. And I really love some of the characters. Parts of the novel seem a bit dry and cliche, but I still couldn’t get enough of it and I am kind of annoyed that the second and third books are not available right this minute for me to buy it. So, yeah.  A solid sci-fi adventure. Five stars.

Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Summary: (4/5 stars) Into the Drowning Deep is a monster thriller novel with the pacing of a movie and reminds me a lot of Michael Crichton’s later work.

The basic premise is that a big, scientific ship is going to the Mariana trench to do some marine research.  Some of the people on the ship are going to investigate the deaths of all the people on another ship that went there seven years earlier.  Some of the investigators believe that the other people were killed by previously undocumented sea monsters that everyone calls mermaids.

Spoiler alert: a buncha people die.  It’s fun!

Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

(3/5 stars) The Final Six is probably a better book than my star rating indicates. I just didn’t love it because it felt like a lot of build-up with little pay-off.  But I think that’s because I’m far less interested in the interpersonal relationships of young people than I am in space travel and the associated mysteries.  It’s a YA book, mind you. So, it feels a little wrong to evaluate it by standards that aren’t quite right for YA, but whatevs.

The basic premise of the book is that earth has been devastated by climate change and is becoming uninhabitable.  So, the various countries and space agencies around the world have teamed up to send a team of teenagers to Europa where they will begin terraforming the moon for human habitation.  The reason they pick teenagers is because they’re old enough to learn complicated things, but young enough to remain adaptable to all the things that the mission requires.  But there’s more to the mission that the teens are being told. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN!

An interesting, if far-fetched premise, with characters that I liked pretty well.  The conflicts don’t build up high enough for my tastes and don’t pay off in the way I wanted.  But it’s good enough that I will probably pick up the next book at some point in hopes of getting more of that space travel goodness.

Book Review: Wisp of a Thing (Tufa #2) by Alex Bledsoe

Summary: (3/5 stars) I thoroughly enjoyed the first of the Tufa novels, but even though this book had a lot of the same color and tone of the first book, it didn’t manage to recapture the magic. I think it’s probably because the main character is different and the overarching conflict between the two fairy families doesn’t expand in a very satisfying way. I think there are five of these books and I’ll keep reading, but now without the same anticipation.

Book Review: The Hum and the Shiver by Alex Bledsoe

(4/5 stars) This is a contemporary-era fantasy novel set in the mountains of eastern Tennessee.  The Hyatt family starts seeing death omens just as their daughter arrives home, injured from a tour of duty in Iraq.  The magic in this book is mysterious and subtle and explained only very slowly.  I really enjoyed the fact that the stakes in the book are really personal unlike in epic fantasy books.  And, of course, I also enjoyed the multi-faceted portrayal of southern culture.  I’ll definitely pick up the second book in this series soon.

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy by Sarah J Maas

(Overall 2/5 stars) This is a young adult epic fantasy series that I foolishly bought all at the same time. I don’t remember why it was recommended to me nor why I listened to that recommendation. I think I bought them all at once because they were relatively inexpensive and they seemed like good books to listen to while feeding the baby at 3am. 

Bottom line: the first and third books are OK. The second one is awful. I would put these books right alongside the Shadowhunter series and the Twilight series in terms of quality. Utterly skippable, in my opinion, so I 100% expect my daughter to find them in my Kindle library when she reaches a suitable age and proclaim them as her favorites.

Book Review: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers

(5/5 stars) This is a great sci-fi romp with colorful characters, lots of adventure and intrigue.  The world-building is intricate without getting too nerdy and even though there’s a strong element of “social justice” throughout, I didn’t feel like it got too preachy.  I also appreciate that although this is very clearly a first book in a series, it feels complete.  I could read just this one and not feel like I’m missing anything. But I enjoyed the characters and the universe, so I will very likely come back to the other books in the series.