A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

BLOG“The planet was beautiful. The planet was horrible. The planet was full of people, and they were beautiful and horrible too.”

*Because this novel is a sequel, this review may contain slight spoilers for The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.

A Closed and Common Orbit is a stand-alone sequel to one of my favourite science-fiction books, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. In the original novel, we were introduced to a crew aboard an intergalactic ship called the Wayfarer, and followed their journey to a small, angry planet. Here, we follow the character of Lovelace, who served as an artificial intelligence system for the Wayfarer and is on her own path following the events of the first novel. She finds herself in a new body and with no memory of prior events after a full system shut-down, and is slowly figuring out the world and her place within it. Alongside her is Pepper, an engineer with a difficult and painful past, who is determined to help Lovelace.

The novel takes turns, chapter by chapter, following Lovelace’s current journey and telling a story from the past. There is no grand plot or action, instead the focus is on the characters and their lives. While The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet felt more expansive as we got to know different planets and beings, A Closed and Common Orbit feels more contained. I love reading character-based stories so I was really at home with this one. It took me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of the novel with the switch in story from chapter to chapter, but once I got into the groove I felt connected to the characters and their narrative. The two stories compliment one another well. As with her previous novel, Becky Chambers does an exceptional job of bringing fascinating worlds to life and giving depth and emotion to characters that makes everything feel so very real. By the time I finished the last page, I have to confess I was a little teary-eyed. Continue reading “A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers”

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

BLOG“A sea roared inside her and made demands, but she waded it, she bobbed up, took a breath, and opened her eyes to the cold winter morning. Then she rose because the day was there, the world was there, and she wanted to be part of it.”

Antonina Beaulieau is in the midst of her first Grand Season. During this time, her life is to be filled with parties where she will ideally find a suitor and cement a place in high society. But Antonina is not a typical young lady. Her telekinetic powers had always made her somewhat of an outcast, but more than that, she does not particularly care or adhere to “proper” lady behaviour. When she meets Hector Auvray, a famous telekinetic performer, she is intrigued by his abilities and more and more flattered by his attention. Hector, however, has a hidden motive that lies behind his interest in Antonina; his quest to recapture a long lost love. What unfolds is a tale of love and duplicity, with a touch of the supernatural.

After reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest novel, Gods of Jade & Shadow, I was inspired to pick up The Beautiful Ones, which was the only novel of hers that I hadn’t read. Quite simply, I loved this book. I feel that this was a case of the right story at the right time, and I found myself completely glued to each page and unable to put it down. Moreno-Garcia is an exceptional writer, and in The Beautiful Ones she creates characters that are compelling and three-dimensional. There was depth and reason, a driving force, behind their actions that I found intriguing. While there is a fantasy aspect to this novel it is mainly a historical romance. The use of telekinesis is sprinkled throughout but does not play a key role. So if you enjoy a good historical romance, this is a great option. It completely hit the mark for me, and deserves five stars for the sheer enjoyment it brought me, and the fact that I could not put it down. Oh how I love when that happens. 🙂

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

BLOG“Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.”

As the daughter of a revered general, Kestrel has two options in life: join the military or get married. Neither appeals to her as she does not posses a natural skill for combat, and any marriage at this point in her life would be purely out of obligation. During an outing to the market she stumbles across a slave auction and on impulse and instinct she places a winning bid on a young man she feels an unexpected connection to. Over time, the bond between Kestrel and Arin grows, but there is much left unsaid. Arin has a secret and once events are set in motion, there will be no turning back.

I have to admit that I love a good YA fantasy novel. Especially during cold winter days, when a cozy blanket, a hot drink, and an escape into a fantastical world is a recipe for a wonderfully relaxing evening. The Winner’s Curse has been popping up on my Goodreads page quite consistently, so when I was looking for a new fantasy read I decided to finally give it a go. It is an easy read, and one you can absolutely breeze through, however, it is not one that is particularly memorable for me. I enjoyed the writing in this novel, and it is obvious that the author is very skilled at what she does. Overall, the story just fell flat for me. Not a whole lot happens in the first half of the story, which I wouldn’t mind if the connection between Kestrel and Arin was better developed. I found myself not connecting to either and didn’t really buy their connection. So, once the story really takes off, I was not at all invested in the events that were unfolding. Which is a shame because the latter part of the novel does have a level of intrigue and entertainment that I would have loved had I at all felt invested or interested in the characters. Ultimately, I am glad I gave this book a read, but I will not continue on with the series.

Gods of Jade & Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset“Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the position of the planets. Casiopea Tun, named after a constellation, was born under the most rotten star imaginable in the firmament.”

Casiopea spends her days cleaning and doing chores for her demanding grandfather, and her nights dreaming of a life of her own. Far from the demands of a family that views her as nothing more than an outsider. But those dreams, over time, start to feel incredibly distant and improbable. One day, while cleaning her grandfather’s room, she comes across a locked and mysterious wooden box. In a moment of rebellion, she unlocks the box and with it releases the spirit of the Mayan god of death. Having been imprisoned by his brother, the god of death is on a quest for revenge, and to gain back his throne. In order to do this he will need Casiopea by his side who, having freed the spirit, is now linked to him. The failure to defeat his brother would mean a demise for both of them. So Casiopea, alongside the god of death, embarks on an adventure she never could have dreamed of. Continue reading “Gods of Jade & Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia”

Favourite Books of 2019

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Going over the list of books I have read throughout the year is always an interesting reflection, filled with books I loved, liked, did not finish, and ones I can barely remember reading. That last one is always amusing, where I need a few moments to recall a story or key plot points that for whatever reason just did not stick with me. For this past year, I can’t say there are many books that I absolutely adored and that would warrant a top ten or even a top five list. So I picked just the ones that I loved reading, could not put down, and would happily read again. Continue reading “Favourite Books of 2019”