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Indexing by Seanan McGuire Audiobook {5 Stars}

Indexing by Seanan McGuire Audiobook {5 Stars}

Indexing by Seanan McGuire
Narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal
(Indexing #1)
Published by 47North on Jan. 21st, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fairytale Retelling, Urban Fantasy
Page Length: 404 pages
Audio Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
How I got my copy: Purchased
Amazon - IndieBound - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice...especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That's where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you're dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Indexing is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin Audiobook {4 Stars}

The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin was one of my most anticipated sequels this year because the previous book, The Fifth Season (huge award winner!), was probably my favorite book last year. The things I loved about The Fifth Season are continued and made more epic in this sequel, and they include a unique and fascinating world, part of the story told in second person that actually WORKS, and amazing narration for the audiobook. As a bonus, lots of underrepresented voices are important in this series, including many characters of color, a transgender character, and many non-straight characters *celebrates*.

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Obelisk Gate from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin Audiobook {4 Stars}

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
Narrated by Robin Miles
(The Broken Earth #2)
Published by Orbit on Aug. 18th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 448 pages
Audio Length: 13 hrs and 19 mins
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
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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.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess ARC {5 Stars}

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess is a blend of Victorian fantasy and Lovecraftian horror with all my favorite parts of each along with a moving discussion of sexism and fantastic pacing. I was excited about this book after reading the blurb but I had no idea how amazing of a ride I was in for! I cannot recommend this book enough to fans of alternative history fantasy and fantasy with something a bit different.

Note: I received an advanced copy of A Shadow Bright and Burning from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess ARC {5 Stars}

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Kingdom on Fire #1)
Published by Random House Children's on Sept. 20th, 2016
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 416 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she's shocked when instead of being executed, she's invited to train as one of Her Majesty's royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess's spellbinding fantasy introduces Henrietta Howel, a powerful, unforgettable heroine, and an entertaining world filled with magic, monsters, and mayhem.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers clearly promises a silly and fun middle grade adventure from that cover. I was impressed, however, with how compelling this fantasy story ended up being beyond just a light read. You will never look at penguins the same way again.

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Voyage to Magical North from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 5th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past--if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she's spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.

When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship theOnion. Before you can say "pieces of eight," they're up to their necks in the pirates' quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don't even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she's unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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The Root by Na’amen Tilahun {4 Stars}

The Root by Na’amen Tilahun is pretty much everything I want in a book: vast world-building, unique and captivating magic, scary and other-worldly enemy, and characters that actually show the full spectrum of humanity in all its skin colors, genders, and sexualities. I picked this book up because I was so happy to see two heroes with dark skin on the cover, but what I got was so so so much more.

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Root from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Root by Na’amen Tilahun {4 Stars}

The Root by Na'amen Tilahun (Wrath and Athenaeum #1)
Published by Nightshade Books on June 7th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 410 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
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A dark, gritty urban fantasy debut set in modern-day San Francisco, filled with gods, sinister government agencies, and worlds of dark magic hidden just below the surface.

When a secret government agency trying to enslave you isn’t the biggest problem you’re facing, you’re in trouble.

Erik, a former teen star living in San Francisco, thought his life was complicated; having his ex-boyfriend in jail because of the scandal that destroyed his career seemed overwhelming. Then Erik learned he was Blooded: descended from the Gods.

Struggling with a power he doesn’t understand and can barely control, Erik discovers that a secret government agency is selling off Blooded like lab rats to a rival branch of preternatural beings in ’Zebub—San Francisco’s mirror city in an alternate dimension.

Lil, a timid apprentice in ’Zebub, is searching for answers to her parents’ sudden and mysterious deaths. Surrounded by those who wish her harm and view her as a lesser being, Lil delves into a forgotten history that those in power will go to dangerous lengths to keep buried.

What neither Erik nor Lil realize is that a darkness is coming, something none have faced in living memory. It eats. It hunts. And it knows them. In The Root, the dark and surging urban fantasy debut from Na’amen Tilahun, two worlds must come together if even a remnant of one is to survive.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor eARC {4 Stars}

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a sci-fi novella about a woman going to a university in space when usually none of her tribe ever leaves their home. This story combines beautiful inspiration from Nigerian culture with an alien first-encounter unlike any I’ve ever read. I am once again left wishing for a full novel or even a series about this world, but for now we must content ourselves with this glimpse

Note: I received an advanced copy of Binti from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor eARC {4 Stars}

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Published by Tor.com on Sept. 22nd, 2015
Genres: Adult, Sci-fi
Page Length: 96 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Secrets of Valhalla by Jasmine Richards eARC {4 Stars}

Secrets of Valhalla by Jasmine Richards is a cute spin on middle grade fantasy featuring Norse gods in that it includes a few other pantheons because everyone must cooperate to keep the days of the week flowing as they should. If you are looking for a story with a fun twist on Norse mythology and a girl of color as the heroine, this is the book for you!

Note: I received an advanced copy of Secrets of Valhalla from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Secrets of Valhalla by Jasmine Richards eARC {4 Stars}

Secrets of Valhalla by Jasmine Richards
Published by HarperCollins on Jan. 19th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, MG
Page Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Two friends awaken a world of myth and magic in this clever middle grade fantasy perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Anne Ursu.

It’s not every day that you find a famous weatherwoman bound by magic to a tree deep in the woods. Or discover that the weatherwoman is in fact Sunna, the Norse Goddess of the Sun, and one of the seven day guardians who keep time in order. But that’s just what happens to new friends Buzz and Mary—and it’s only the start of their adventure.

Now, as the people of Earth are forced to repeat the same Saturday over and over again, Buzz and Mary must journey to collect the Runes of Valhalla and awaken the other day guardians, before vengeful god Loki can get to them first.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen Audiobook {5 Stars}

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen is the first in a new series set in a ‘weird west’ that blends Western and fantasy with a blissfully diverse and prickly heroine and her Coyote sidekicks. I absolutely adored this audiobook both because the narration is fantastic and because the story is everything I wanted. If you want to put your money where your mouth is for #WeNeedDiverseBooks and read an addicting story, get Wake of Vultures.

Note: I received an audio copy of Wake of Vultures from the publisher. Listening to a book does impact my reading experience.

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen Audiobook {5 Stars}

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
Narrated by Robin Miles
(The Shadow #1)
Published by Orbit on Oct. 27th, 2015
Genres: Western Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 342 pages
Audio Length: 10 hrs 47 mins
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Barnes & Noble - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

A rich, dark fantasy of destiny, death, and the supernatural world hiding beneath the surface.

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She's a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don't call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn't understand what's under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding -- at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin... if the monsters along the way don't kill her first.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier eARC {2.5 Stars}

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier is a fresh twist on the werewolf and witch urban fantasies in the young adult genre. Black Dog focuses on the lives of three siblings as they run from Mexico to the northern United States, escaping from the stray Black Dog pack that murdered their parents. I loved the premise of werewolf myths actually coming from these black dogs with shadow magic and the idea of main characters from Mexico! However, Black Dog never pulled me in and I just couldn’t manage to connect with either of the narrators. Even when people were being eviscerated, I just didn’t care, making Black Dog a very slow read given its length.

Note: I received an eARC of Black Dog through Netgalley for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier eARC {2.5 Stars}

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Published by Strange Chemistry on Feb. 4th, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 448 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge--the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases--like for Natividad's father and older brother--Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad's mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister's Pure magic. Natividad's twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

2.5 Stars

Strengths:

  • I was so happy to see that Black Dog had POC characters narrating the story. This also added a fun twist with the potential to bring in more Mexican culture to the over saturated urban fantasy genre. Plus, the cover doesn’t look white-washed, woot!
  • I loved the spin on werewolves that Black Dog developed. Black dogs are people that can turn into hellhounds, basically, but the transformation comes from their shadow coming up and enveloping them. There is the same struggle with the human mind versus the black dog instincts, but with the added bonus of shadows and hellish influences. The Pure magic described in the synopsis is pretty much a spin on good witches, since they use pentagrams and other religious symbols to cast protective magic. I liked the dynamic between Pure magic and black dog shadows, plus the whole sibling thing worked all these concepts together well.
  • I took Spanish for a year or two when I was around five, so I definitely do not understand written Spanish. Black Dog did a fairly good job of incorporating Spanish words (since it’s narrated by Spanish-speakers), while still including enough English explanations so that I didn’t get lost.

Weaknesses:

  •  I was unfortunately not able to connect with either Natividad or Alejandro (the two narrators) at any point during Black Dog. While it was interesting hearing about the magic that both of them have, and Alejandro certainly has struggles with his Black Dog, they both felt like very bland characters to me. Natividad isn’t a girl that I would likely connect with if I met her in real life based on my impressions of her in Black Dog, and that is a big problem for me.
  • Black Dog takes place in an alternative world from ours as far as I can tell. There is mention of vampires previously keeping the general populace unable to see magical critters, but the vampires have recently been defeated so the humans are starting to figure things out. That’s about all I know about this world, however, since that’s all that is mentioned. It felt very strange for there to be these obvious disconnects from our world, but not much to fill in the holes left behind.
  • Black Dog was never able to make me feel tension for the characters’ fates, even during the action scenes. There are a couple of fairly large fights with the bad guys and people do definitely die, but I was never really worried about the main characters. There just didn’t seem to be any real risk in Black Dog in that I didn’t believe the author would let anything bad happen to our characters.
  • There is a really creepy arranged marriage vibe hinted at in Black Dog. The Pure women are protected by certain Black Dogs and considered highly desirable because they can have children with Black Dogs. Therefore, when Natividad shows up at this new pack, she is informed she will have to choose someone in a few months and one of the strongest men basically lays claim to her…. What the hell???

Summary:

Black Dog had a lot of potential but just ended up coming off stiff and dull. I was intrigued with the alternative world history that was hinted at, but we never got enough information to really understand what was going on in this world. I was excited to get to know some characters a little different from the typical young adult cast, but I was completely unable to connect to them for reasons I’m honestly still not able to pin down. When I finally looked at the page count of Black Dog in order to write this review, I felt a little bit better about how long it had taken me to read it, since it just felt like it kept going on. If the premise sounds really awesome to you, you might give it a try, but be prepared for a bit of a slow read.

2.5 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

– Anya

 

 Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier