Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

I have a lot of books that I have but need to read. Therefore, the only way I could possibly make sense of this TTT is by listing the next 10 book reviews I have scheduled on my handy-dandy Google Calendar. Hopefully, if all goes well, these will be the next 10 or so reviews that you see from me. Marina will just be surprising you. 😉

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ARC Review: “Katya’s World” by Jonathan L. Howard

Katya’s World (Katya Kuriakova #1) by Jonathan L. Howard

Goodreads | Amazon

The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent.

Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career.

There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.

3 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Strange Chemistry for this eARC! This book will be released November 13th!

Did you know that dystopian is technically filed under scifi? Because Jonathan Howard didn’t forget. Oh Lord he didn’t forget.

It has been ages upon ages since I read a YA book that was this much a straight scifi. The other dystopians I’ve read don’t compare by a long shot. Katya’s World is what scifi is supposed to be: pages of tech description, tons of tech usage, that kind of thing. Quite honestly, I’m not a fan most of the time because I’m just like ALRIGHT STORY NOW.

Katya’s world was, at least, fairly refreshing. I enjoyed how it tried to give itself a twist by adding an essence of Russian heritage. Honestly, though, the real emphasis was on the submarines. Kept reminding me of that submarine movie with Sean Connery. It was a very serious place; humor was not an obvious element to this book.

That’s probably because once the book got going, it didn’t stop. The beginning has about 30 seconds of normalcy before things start to spiral out of control at one heck of a sharp angle. By about halfway through the book we’ve gone from, “Man, the government has commandeered our boat” to “THE WORLD IS GOING TO BE DESTROYED.” And then it just keeps careening out of control from there. Freaking nobody in this book can catch a break, and Howard isn’t afraid to kill people.

The character of Katya was interesting to me. I always like analyzing what happens when a guy writes a girl MC versus a girl writing a girl. Katya’s character is supposed to be anti-feminine from the get go, but the amount of emotion she displays for most of the book is minimal. I mean, she displays it at the most serious times, but quite frankly she might as well have been a guy. While this was a plus for me, some people might not like the fact that Katya spends the entire book being one of two females on multiple submarines full of dudes and there’s no romance. She didn’t have time trying to freaking save the world.

My biggest issue with this book is an issue I’ve seen a lot of scifis struggle with, and that’s the balance between information and content. This book was a fast paced thing, but it never felt like it because of all the block description thrown it. Now I understand part of this is just what scifi books DO, but, for example, at the beginning: the entire first chapter is a prologue that explains the world. That’s great, whatever. But THEN in about chapter TWO, ALL that information is repeated. Redundant information description happened a lot in block chunks, that was just all together frustrating. Maybe he was trying to remind the readers, but it way cluttered up the book.

Katya’s World is the kind of book I enjoyed, but would probably hand my copy off to my brother. This book would blow him out of the water.  I appreciate the extensive world building that Howard clearly sweated over, but I think the plot suffered for it. The characters were okay, but few were fleshed out and fewer had any range of emotions. If you’re a lover of straight scifi then you’ll probably adore this one–I liked it myself without being one such person. However, it’s just not one I’d read over and over again.

ARC Review: “The Assassin’s Curse” by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Assassin’s Curse (The Assassin’s Curse #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Goodreads | Amazon

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

2 1/2 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and Strange Chemistry for this eARC! You can get a copy for yourself on October 2nd, 2012

They say that the first few pages of a book will alter your perception of every page thereafter.

This is exactly what happened to me with this book.

In the first few pages, a lot of things happen. A LOT. Usually, this would be a good marker for me. However, the problem was that each and every event snapped my suspension of disbelief and threw me out of the world of the book. If you’ve never heard the term “suspension of disbelief” before, it just means the reader’s ability to believe in something fantastical in the plot or in a character or so forth. In fantasy novels, often if the suspension of disbelief is snapped the reader will cease to believe any plot twist that happens after that point.

And that’s exactly what happened to me.

I absolutely adored this premise, don’t get me wrong. I had such high hopes that maybe I couldn’t help but be let down. But the unfortunate thing about Ananna is that she never thinks about what she does. There is no preamble or thoughts about abandoning her fiance–which, by the way, means abandoning her entire way of life, her family, the sea, etc. She just gets annoyed with her fiance-to-never-be talking, sees a camel and is like “SO LONG, SUCKER!”

It gets worse from there.

Perhaps part of the problem was that the world building was never particularly solid. I got the main points about the world in which Ananna lives–which seems like a darn cool one–but several things I wanted explained never were. In fact, I got so annoyed with Ananna’s calm accepting of things being left unexplained (big things. All the small things Naji didn’t explain, she shouted “Bullshit!” and got up in his face about it.) that I started counting every time there was some phrasing of “And she let it slide” or “She knew he wouldn’t continue, so she let it go.” Ananna is established as the kind of girl who WOULDN’T do just that.

Another minor annoyance: dialect. I saw no particular reason that every once and a while Ananna would say “gonna” or “’em” or “ain’t.” This only works if you’re Zora Neale Hurston writing Their Eyes Were Watching God, folks.

The last half of the book does even out, but by then I was just too far gone to be able to really like the book. I didn’t believe in the plausibility of the plot and the characters were a little too cookie cutter for me. I really liked the action that took place in the second half, though, and that’s what kept me reading all the way til the end–it literally wouldn’t let me stop.

The magic in this book was also awesome. I’m a huge fan of elemental magics, and this one didn’t disappoint. There is also a lot of USE of it, which is nice. As I said above, there is also plenty of action–as you would expect from a book where a main character is an assassin.

All and all, this book just defeated any chance I had at really loving it right from the beginning. There are only so many crazy choices I’m willing to believe before the plot leaves the realm of plausibility, and this one threw way too many at me right from the get-go. It redeemed itself slightly in the second half, but that was no thanks to the characters or the plot twists, but rather the action and the setting (this book TRAVELS). I also felt as if the end of the book made it feel like a great deal of the middle never had a point at all in the grand scheme of things. I may read the second book just because I like the world, but it won’t be a definite get for me.

The second book in the Assassin’s Curse series, The Pirate’s Wish, will be released in 2013