Review: The Obelisk Gate

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

Series: The Broken Earth
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

This is the way the world ends… for the last time.

The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.


This is a really hard review to write, because I can’t assume you’ve read The Fifth Season, but I really WANT you to, so I don’t want to give anything away. But this sequel is pretty impossible to talk about without giving anything away… I’ll summarize by saying OH MY GOD IT WAS SO GOOD.

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Classic Remarks: Classic Book You’re Afraid to Pick Up

This week Krysta and Briana at Pages Unbound are hosting the discussion: What is a classic novel you are afraid to pick up? Why?

I should preface by saying that in 2020 I finally read the Classic on my tbr that I was most intimidated by, which was Lonesome Dove. I was intimidated partly because of its size (it was 800 pages long!) and the fact that it was a Western, which is easily my least familiar genre. I had no idea what I was going to get, and 800 pages of I don’t know what I’m going to get was pretty scary! I ended up liking it well enough, I think I gave it 4-stars, but it’s not one I would purchase or re-read. You can read my sort-of-review here if you want.

Right now there actually aren’t very many classics on my tbr, and most of them are books that I would call “modern classics”. Meaning, written after 1950. They are books that have made it into the literary canon, but maybe aren’t old enough yet to really refer to as classics. And there is one in particular that I’m nervous about.

I am, of course, referring to Kindred by Octavia Butler.

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Review: Red Rising

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Series: Red Rising
Genre: Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 5-
Content Warning: Rape (off-the-page)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. [redacted by reviewer because I feel like this is spoilery]

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.


This is going to be a short review, because I didn’t really connect with this book, but I’m not sure that I fully understand why.

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Review: Heroine Complex

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

Series: Heroine Complex
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest secret comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.


Heroine Complex was completely different from what I was expecting, but still everything I was hoping for. It was exciting, funny, sexy, and full of heart.

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Review: Supernova

Supernova by Marissa Meyer

Series: Renegades
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆

The Renegades’ worst enemy is back among them, threatening to reclaim Gatlon City. Nova and Adrian must brave lies and betrayal to protect those they love. Their greatest fears are about to come to life, and unless they can bridge the divide between heroes and villains, they stand to lose everything. Including each other.

Intrigue and action will leave readers on edge until the final, shocking secrets are revealed.


Supernova definitely improved from the second-book-slump of Arch-Enemies but didn’t quite manage to live up to the series opener of Renegades. Meyer’s writing is engrossing and entertaining, but residual plot problems from the second book prevented this one from knocking it out of the park.

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Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Genres: Science Fiction, Novella
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.


At this point, This is How You Lose the Time War has won every major science fiction award there is to win. Every reviewer, bookseller, blogger, and book personality has talked about why this book is so good. I’m not sure there’s anything I can contribute to this conversation, other than to say I cosign ALL OF THAT.

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Review: Prime Deceptions

Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes

Series: Chilling Effect
Genre: Science Ficion
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra find themselves once again on the fringe of populated space—and at the center of a raging covert war. When Eva’s sister asks for help locating a missing scientist, promises of a big paycheck and a noble cause convince Eva to take the job despite lingering trust issues.

With reluctant assistance from her estranged mother, Eva and her crew follow the missing scientist’s trail across the universe, from the costume-filled halls of a never-ending convention to a dangerous bot-fighting arena. They ultimately find themselves at the last place Eva wants to see again—Garilia—where she experienced her most shameful and haunting failure.

To complete her mission and get paid, Eva must navigate a paradise embroiled in a rebellion, where massive forests and pristine beaches hide psychic creatures and pervasive surveillance technology. Can she find her quarry while avoiding the oppressive local regime, or will she be doomed to repeat past mistakes when her dark deeds come to light?


This series is such a blast to read! Chilling Effect was one of my favorite books of 2019, and Prime Deceptions was just as good. Both books are as smart as they are funny, and as thoughtful as they are exciting.

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2020 SF/F Books with Black Covers

Apparently 2020 is the year of black covers over here in Sci-Fi/Fantasy land. It wasn’t until after I was looking at my pre-order list that I realized just how many there are, but golly y’all, every book I’ve bought or pre-ordered this year except for one has had a black cover! I wonder if this is something that’s intentional marketing (maybe black books are selling better right now?) or whether it’s just a coincidence. It might say something about how darker books are more popular right now too.

Anyway, I’m not complaining because all of these book covers are just jaw-dropping. Some seriously awesome cover design.

These are in no particular order.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

In this case I think the black cover is definitely meant to reflect the content of the book. I think there’s dark magic involved, and the school involved seems like it’s probably a pretty dark place in every meaning of the word. Anyway, this cover is sooooo cool looking. I love its simplicity and the way the gold pops against the black. A Deadly Education comes out in September.

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Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Series: The Broken Earth
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Maturity Level: 5
(Content Warnings: child abuse, harm to children, enslavement)
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.


WOW.

I’ve slept on this book before trying to start the review because I am just IN AWE, but I still don’t know what to write. How do you review on of the greatest pieces of speculative fiction of the 21st century?

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Review: Dune

Dune by Frank Herbert

Series: Dune Chronicles
Genre: Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating:
⋆⋆⋆

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, heir to a noble family tasked with ruling an inhospitable world where the only thing of value is the “spice” melange, a drug capable of extending life and enhancing consciousness. Coveted across the known universe, melange is a prize worth killing for….

When House Atreides is betrayed, the destruction of Paul’s family will set the boy on a journey toward a destiny greater than he could ever have imagined. And as he evolves into the mysterious man known as Muad’Dib, he will bring to fruition humankind’s most ancient and unattainable dream.


Setting out to write a review of Dune seems both pointless and impossible. It has already gone down in history as THE Space Opera to end all space operas. It is regularly compared to The Lord of the Rings in terms of both influence and popularity in the speculative fiction genre. The themes of the book endure these decades later.

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