Hello again. Sorry, I haven't been around for a while. I have had a lot of bad news since February so haven't been reading that much. I am very lucky that I write for the very nice and lovely Qwill who has been very understanding with my lack of blogging. I am back now with which is a semi bumper crop of books to tell you about. So without much further ado this is what I have read (or listened to).
I was super excited when I found T.J. Berry's Five Unicorn Flush on NetGalley. I loved book 1 - Space Unicorn Blues and couldn't believe that it was a debut as it was such a great concept, well written with great characters. You can read my review here. I liked it so much it made my top 5 of 2018. This second instalment starts not long after the events of book 1 when all of the supernaturals (the Bala) were teleported away to a new planet far, far away from the cruelty of humanity. The story starts on board the Stagecoach Mary with Jenny Perata at the helm of the ship desperately searching for her wife, a dryad who has gone missing with the rest of the Bala. While Jenny creeps through space on an aging spaceship and no unicorn horn to fuel it Gary, my favourite space unicorn, is on his new home planet. Not everyone is that happy with Gary or his father from taking them away from all the 'creature' comforts they have gotten used to...even if those comforts led to the torture and death of many of their kin. Two more characters from book 1 are also searching for the new Bala home planet - Biao who is hiding his magical lineage from the humans and the very human, Will Penny. Forces are drawing the humans to Gary and his kind in the back drop of a civil war between the Bala.
Sometimes the second book of a series can be a bit of a let down or not as exciting as the first. Not in the case of the The Reason series. The scenes with Jenny Perata on and off the Stage Coach Mary were really amusing and Jenny is a great, broken heroine. Gary wants to do the best for his kin but can't seem to live up to anyone's expectations, including his own. He is torn between wanting to save his kind and saving humans and this creates the tension that supports the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed Five Unicorn Flush despite another massive cliff hanger ending. Berry has the ability to write a gritty but humorous story that keeps you guessing what is going to happen next.
Another great find on NetGalley was Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. A game is afoot and the game pieces are two young children - Roger and Dodger. Dodger is a mathematical genius while her twin brother is extremely gifted with words/vocabulary. They live on opposite sides of the country and communicate telepathically. The game master is Reed. He created the twins as a means of releasing magic into the world and to elevate him to godhood. This is a game of life or death and the twins have decided not to play by the rules.
I have to admit that for the first 5-6 chapters I had no clue what was going on. It took me a while to get into the story and before the references to a child's book started every new chapter. The story really didn't take off until Roger and Dodger were adults and met for the first time and this doesn't happen until mid-way through the book. It wasn't the easiest book to read but it was well written and the plotline quite innovative. It looks like a one off so not a big investment in time if you already enjoy other books by this author. I suggest giving it a go with an open mind.
The next two books I am going to tell you about share similarities. These are that they are written by the same author and I listened to them rather than read them. So what are they you ask? Circe and The Songs of Achilles by Madeline Miller. The first one I came across was Circe so I will tell you about this one first. This novel is a bit of a winner - award winner. It was the Goodreads Choice winner and won the Orange prize. It was also cited as a 'must read' by a couple of English newspaper book reviewers. I think it was well deserved praise. Circe the book is the story of Circe the mythological daughter of Helios, god of the sun. Circe is mainly shunned by the gods and doesn't live up to the divinity of either of her parents. She ends up seeking companionship in mortals and discovers the forbidden magic -witchcraft. After a particularly vengeful spell she is exiled by Zeus to the remote island of Aiaia where she lives a fairly secluded life except for encounters with both gods and mortals alike. Over the centuries she harnesses her witchraft and becomes renowned for her own powers. With that power also comes hardship and it's not long before she has to decide if she wants to align to the gods who shun her or the mortals who she has grown to love.
I really enjoyed this book and really glad I listened to the audiobook version. I thought Peridita Weeks did a fantastic job of bringing Circe and all the gods to life. I wasn't as familiar with Circe as I am with some of the other Greek myths but the story is a real virtual page turner. I don't think you need to have any knowledge or love of Greek mythology to enjoy this story so whether you want to read the physical version, the e-Book or the audiobook version I highly recommend that you do.
One could be fooled into thinking that The Songs of Achilles is about Achilles. It is indirectly, but more about it's narrator - Achilles' friend and lover, Patroclus. The story starts when Patroclus is a very young boy who has been exciled and goes to live with Achilles. It tracks Achilles life through Patroclus' eyes and growing love up to and including the siege of Troy.
The Songs of Achilles is a true love story and beautifully told. I didn't love the narrator as much as I have others but story itself brings the characters to life. I really felt that I was in ancient Greece smelling the olive oil and feeling the sun on my skin. This is a truly evocative story and I especially enjoyed the bittersweet ending. Two fantastic books by a fantastic author that are must reads.
That is all I have to tell you about for this month apart from one book that was a DNF - Fluffy's Revolution by Ted Myers. I thought this might be a bit of a feel good, talking cat kind of fun book. The only problem is that this book is written for a 8-12 year old reader so not quite my age group. I couldn't even pretend I could read it and found it far too juvenile and banal. If you have a cat loving youngster in your life then I would recommend it for a very young reader.
That's it for me for me. I hope April showers bring May great reads! Happy Reading!
Five Unicorn Flush
The Reason 2
Angry Robot Books, May 28, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages
Only one woman with a magical parasite can unite the galaxy, in the mind-blowing SF sequel to Space Unicorn Blues
Reasonspace is in shambles after the disappearance of all magical creatures. Without faster-than-light travel, supply and communication routes have dried up, leaving humankind stranded and starving. Cowboy Jim and his complement of Reason soldiers search for the relocated Bala using the only surviving FTL drive. On their new utopian planet, the Bala are on the brink of civil war between those who want peace under old-fashioned unicorn rule and those who seek revenge on their human oppressors. Only Captain Jenny and her new brain parasite can stop the Reason plan to enslave the Bala again.
File Under:Science Fiction [ Elves on the Brain | Lust for Magic | Best Served Hot | FTL Hell ]
Tor.com, May 7, 2019
Hardcover and eBook, 528 pages
New York Times bestselling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the standalone fantasy, Middlegame.
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
The Song of Achilles
Ecco, August 28, 2012
Trade Paperback, August 12, 2012
eBook, March 6, 2012
“At once a scholar’s homage to The Iliad and startlingly original work of art by an incredibly talented new novelist….A book I could not put down.”
“Mary Renault lives again!” declares Emma Donoghue, author of Room, referring to The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s thrilling, profoundly moving, and utterly unique retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War. A tale of gods, kings, immortal fame, and the human heart, The Song of Achilles is a dazzling literary feat that brilliantly reimagines Homer’s enduring masterwork, The Iliad. An action-packed adventure, an epic love story, a marvelously conceived and executed page-turner, Miller’s monumental debut novel has already earned resounding acclaim from some of contemporary fiction’s brightest lights—and fans of Mary Renault, Bernard Cornwell, Steven Pressfield, and Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series will delight in this unforgettable journey back to ancient Greece in the Age of Heroes.
Little, Brown and Company, April 10, 2018
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages
“A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess’s story,” this #1 New York Times bestseller is “both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right” (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.
Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.
But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER–NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY NPR, The Washington Post, People, Time, Amazon,Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Newsweek, the A.V. Club, Christian Science Monitor and Refinery 29, Buzzfeed, Paste, Audible, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Thrillist, NYPL, Self Real Simple, Goodreads, Boston Globe, Electric Literature, BookPage, the Guardian, Book Riot, Seattle Times, and Business Insider
Black Rose Writing, March 28 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 145 pages
“Brisk sci-fi futurism with a feline star and a positive outlook.” –KIRKUS REVIEWS
The fate of the world rests on the haunches of one small cat.
It’s 2135. Fluffy is a super-intelligent GAB (Genetically Altered Brain) cat. Like many dogs, cats, mice, and the occasional pig, her brain is the product of genetic tinkering by humans that started more than a century ago. With their powers of telekinesis, the animals can manipulate physical objects without being able to grasp them. They can speak to each other telepathically without audible voices. Now, people have begun to fear them and to systematically capture and exterminate them. Fluffy leaves the safety of her home to look for her lost brother and joins a band of animal revolutionaries. After a series of brushes with death, Fluffy and her friends find a secret university for GAB animals. There, they work with enlightened humans to save Earth from certain destruction.