#FirstLinesFridays

First Lines Fridays, hosted by Wandering Words, is a weekly feature that works like this: you pick a book, open to the first page, copy the first few lines sans spoilers, and then reveal the book. Here’s mine for this week, from the book I just started today:


The image might’ve given it away…It’s The White Mare by Jules Watson.

Buy it here, or learn more about it from its Goodreads page here.

Gritty, Real, Satisfying Dark Fantasy: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen (*Spoilers*)

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 *This review contains spoilers for a major plot point.

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Biggest Book Disappointment of the Year: A Review of Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

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Details and Synopsis
My Rating: 3/5 stars
US Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
17 year-old Ismae is marked by St. Martain, the saint-god of death, because she survived her mother’s attempted abortion. She bears this mark physically in a gruesome scar, and in the otherworldly abilities she has yet to acknowledge. A medieval woman living in Brittany, she’s married off in an agreement between her abusive father and an equally horrible man who shows Ismae on their wedding night that he will not only continue her father’s brutal treatment, he’s going to add to it. Thankfully, she’s smuggled away by adherents of St. Martain, and taken to His convent of assassin nuns. There she’s trained to do her part to keep Brittany’s sovereignty from the kingdom of France, but the path she walks is full of treachery, politics, love, and other dangerous things.

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Women and Vocation: A Mini Review of Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich

US Publisher: Orb Weaver Press, 2011

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Wander, my daughter. A woman’s path is made by wandering.”

I found Eolyn on the Kindle store for $1.99, and it was so nice to start a book knowing absolutely nothing about it beyond its short Amazon blurb. There was no hype for it to live up to, and now that it’s over that makes me sad because it’s a really good book.

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Book Review: Empire of Storms (or, more accurately, my immediate, barely articulate emotional rant)

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Series Saturday: Eternal Sky, by Elizabeth Bear

My #SeriesSaturday (hosted by P.S. I Love that Book) submission is Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy, comprising of Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, and Steles of the Sky.

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Book Review: Graceling (or, Not Your Run-of-the-Mill “Strong Female Character”)

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“Usually when you see females in movies, they feel like they have these metallic structures around them, they are caged by male energy.” -Bjork

The quote above applies to books, too. I just listened to author Kameron Hurley (in this interview) discuss that, unfortunately, “strong female character” has become a trope of its own; it’s so over-used and bloated that it’s morphed into giving a woman a gun/sword/super powers, having her perpetrate some traditionally masculine violence, and generally just take ye-olde-fantasy-male-hero character and give him lady parts. I’d add to this that those lady parts usually come with extraordinary beauty (she can be strong but she has to also be sexy) and vulnerability to soften her just enough. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of books that do this. But I really, really, really appreciate that Graceling does not.

Graceling has been out for a while, and it’s not necessarily obscure, so I’ll say briefly that I thought the writing was excellent, the story fascinating, the world immersive, and the characters compelling. But below I’m going to outline what made this book one of my favorites of all time, and the things it does that make it truly unique to so much of what I read. Minor spoilers proceeding.

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Podcast Rec: Kameron Hurley on Geek Feminism, via Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Kameron Hurley writes brutal, amazing fiction. Her blog post “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the ‘Women, Cattle and Slaves’ Narrative,” was the first to be nominated for (and win) a Hugo Award. I just listened to her interview on Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy and wanted to share it with you, in case you’re as interested in geek feminism, female writers of SFF, and the portrayal of women in SFF as me. 🙂

Her latest book is the essay collection The Geek Feminist Revolution, and she wrote my favorite book of 2014, The Mirror Empire.

Book Review: Angelfall

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Title_ Into the Dark LandsAuthor_ -2

“I wonder which will get you killed faster–your loyalty or your stubbornness?”

Synopsis

Penryn is 17, her mother is schizophrenic, her father is gone, and her 7 year old sister, Paige, is paralyzed from the waist down. If her responsibilities weren’t great enough, the world has ended and angels have decided it’s capital-A apocalypse time.

The book begins with Penryn moving her family to a safer part of town; her mother has been off her meds for days, and her sweet-hearted sister is slow-going in her manual wheelchair. Feeding her family and dodging angels and human gangs is all she has time for, so she surprises even herself when she comes to the aid of an angel who’s being attacked by his own kind, his wings severed.

That angel is Raffe, and with Penryn’s help he survives. But one of the attacking angels steals Paige, and Penryn realizes that Raffe is very probably her only chance of ever seeing her sister again. The two of them strike up an uneasy alliance; he needs his wings restored, she wants her family reunited. They set out together, and the rest is not history, but a really fun, original urban fantasy.

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