One of my favorite things in sci-fi is the question of what it means to be human, and when do machines cross that line into being truly alive, capable of free will, of questioning their makers, of wanting to be a part of this thing called “life”. “Urban Heroes” leans hard into that question and I love it. You have the main character, Calista, who is on the run from the uprising between man and machine she was accidentally a part of. Calista is a pilot, which means she has an almost symbiotic relationship with her ship all for the low, low price of trading her arm for a robotic one. Calista runs in with people who have more machine parts then actual machines, and yet they are offered more rights than the true robotic AI populating their world. Which is occupied by floating cities now that the world has kind of crumbled away, or something. With Calista is Axton, who pretty much everyone and their mother wants to get their hands on. Why? That is slowly teased out over the course of this very short book, and I loved the tragedy that was Calista and Axton. This book makes you think, question what is truly alive, breaks your heart, and leaves you wanting more. Maybe too much more?
I am a big fan of ancient historical fiction. Some of my favorite historical fiction books are the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell mainly because it helps me feel like I am learning about a time long forgotten and being supremely entertained at the same time—don’t yell at me, I know historical fiction is Fiction with that capital “F” and lots of liberties are being taken, but a good historical fiction will inspire you, me, and maybe your mom too, to go out and then learn more about that time, or at least Google it for the next two days. That’s what “The Silver Horn Echoes: A Song of Roland” did for me. You see, I was 0% familiar with “La Chanson de Roland”, the epic poem/story this novel is based on. It’s the story of the most honorable of knights in the Christian Frank Kingdom as he protects his king and country from the Emir of Saragossa. Who is Roland’s king that he becomes the champion for? That he’ll stand against countless waves of enemies for, and uncover murder plots for? Oh, just the guy who later becomes known as Charlemagne, maybe you’ve heard of him?
Oh lord, friends, where do I begin? Firstly, with a plea for you to read the first book, “Imber”, in this epic series first and foremost. You have to or nothing else will make sense, but it's worth it, so, so worth it. Once you do that, come back, sit down next to me, and let me tell you about all the heart strings that “Tellus” is going to pull, because it will pull them and pull them, break some, but then give you more because there are moments so achingly sweet mixed in with the pain our dear heroes face. What kind of pain? Oh, just the fate of the world, no biggie. “Tellus” picks up pretty seamlessly from where “Imber” left off: Nat has failed to retrieve one of the Scepters that is keeping the Titans locked away. There are 2 more left, but they don’t know where they are, or who could be conspiring against them, keeping Nat from her throne and risking the life of her family—by blood or no.
This is one of those series that is borderline a guilty pleasure for me at the moment. I can tell that this is one of those series that was 1. Maybe hurt by the hype train and my inability to read books in a timely fashion so things end up getting kind of spoiled, and 2. That it’s also one of those series that only really gets good come the third or fourth book. In “Crown of Midnight” Celaena is firmly the King’s Champion, though she’s fairly good at not having to assassinate anyone for an assassin. The King gives her a list of people she needs to eliminate, and she goes off and pretends like she does, but things get complicated when the King wants her to kill a blast from her past because he suspects that he’s leading a rebellion. This person is a courtesan of sorts, and Celaena doesn’t believe her old friend would have the guts to do something like the King claims given the life of luxury he leads. So, on her quest to figure out who is really involved in this rebellion, Celaena uncovers more secrets in the impossibly large underground passages of the Glass Castle—like seriously, there’s at least 3 castles within this one castle that are just completely abandoned. Ultimately, this is very much a book about moving pieces and characters into the right places so the main plot of the series can finally begin.
Raise your hand if you enjoy supernatural creatures living in the “real world” alongside classic fae characters like Queen Titania and Oberon (yes, most widely known from Midsummer Night’s Dream), and some epic battle scenes? Oh good, that’s most of you! “Heir of Doom” is the second book in the Roxanne Fosch series, and this is one of those series where you absolutely have to read the series in order. If you haven’t done that yet, go on with your bad self then mosey on back and we’ll discuss this sequel, I’ll wait. All caught up? Excellent! In book 2, we watch Roxanne try to fit in to her new life as a Hunter, a preternatural group of predators who police others of their kind regardless of which clan they belong to. After the dramatic events of the first book, Roxanne is kind of hoping that’s earned her some good will—she did save her clan leader from horrific experiments after all—but it has the opposite effect. She’s still hated by her own people and Roxanne cannot figure out why for the life of her—still. It’s frustrating, but at least with this second book we discover more as to why Roxanne is the clan’s punching bag, and new information about why the fae want her, why Remo wants her, and why Logan is so different in this book from the previous gets clarified.
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