cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Book 13-16

Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So many friends told me I had to read this one that I was hesitant. Sometimes things can be overhyped but not in this case. I loved this book. Bree is instantly likeable as she's grieving her mother's death especially in the light of the fact their last conversation was an argument about her taking classes at college in spite of being still in high school. Going with her friend Alice, Bree is in battle with herself, calling her angry grieving self After-Bree.

In a fateful first party, Bree's life goes off the rails when she sees a few hellhounds and meets an angry mysterious young man, Selwyn who does battle with them. Bree has been introduced to the legendborn and she is swept up into their world, especially after it seems they might have had something to do with her mother's death.

Bree is flawed and angry and wonderful as are many of the legendborn characters, Selwyn Nick and William especially. You have in Bree a YA heroine of color. She’s intelligent and resourceful. The racism and misogyny she faces is woven in nicely, it’s there without overpowering the story line. I loved the addition of actual Welsh language along with the Arthurian backbone to the story. All of the main characters are well rounded and believable. Even Selwyn’s early distrust of Bree, which makes him rather dickish, is understandable in context.

The final battle of the book held a lot of surprises. I can’t wait to get to the next book in the series.

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The City We Became (Great Cities, #1)The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another book that managed to live up to its hype. It’s a strange book and I have to say the midwife character put me off in the opening pages. For me there wasn’t any entry point to the character, a very angry, young gay black man who is both a street artist and homeless. The idea, behind him and the story is fascinating in where it went: cities becoming ‘alive’ and having a human (sort of) avatar to represent it.

Once Manhattan appeared, I was hooked. It’s impossible to boil down a book this size and with such depth in a review (especially after being delayed in writing the review for a month). All the boroughs of the city were interesting and very real. They are richly developed (oddly Manhattan remained my favorite) with all their own challenges and joys.

This is at its heart a love song for New York city and I loved that it used a Lovecraft Cthulu like villain as a big middle finger to Lovecraft’s extreme racism. The effects of racism and fear of the police are all through this book almost to the point of being overpowering. To that end, my biggest disappointment was that the only White avatar, Staten Island, started to move away from her father’s homophobic, xenophobic racist believes and away from her own social anxieties but in the end fails to do so. That was unsatisfying but I suppose it might be in line with Staten Island’s reputation as not wanting to really be part of NYC.

Overall it’s an interesting concept (and I didn’t like the midwife avatar in the end either, that was not a character that grew on me) and the characters were fascinating. As I type it, this book is up for a Nebula award and it’s deserving of that nod.

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Virtue at Market PriceVirtue at Market Price by E. Pluribus Van Slyke

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

E. Pluribus Van Slyke is an ex-naval officer and conman. As he’s nearly getting killed on a Paris steamliner because he was cheating playing cards, the liner is raided by airship pirates who make off with many of the women including Van Slyke’s ‘wife’ and all the money she has stowed in her undergarments. He’s desperate to get her back but to be fair it’s more the money he’s after.

The entire novel is one ridiculous misadventure after the other as Van Slyke tries to get the women back. Basically it’s one long drag of him sleeping with every woman on his way to find his wife who has been taken into a fantasy world created by his author cousin. How many ways can the clitoris be described? Read this and find out. Since Van Slyke is a premature ejaculator he’s all about cunnilingus to off set that.

Women have zero agency in this (barring the Mortal Sins at the end and they weren’t in this enough to matter). They are nothing but sexual toys for the men in the story. Need them to contribute to aiding in their attempts at rescue by all means have them do burlesque. It was eye rolling. I wouldn’t have finished but this was what I had with me in the emergency room and no wifi to download something else.

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The Hanover Square Affair (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries, #1)The Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cavalry captain Gabriel Lacey is back from the Napoleonic war having nearly lost a leg and is left with a limp. He battles depression and is caught up in personal drama caused by a betrayal of his close friend that left him out of the army with little money and the bitter loss of this friendship.

He ends up being swept up into the disappearance of a couple of middle classed (such as it was in the early 1800s) women. One of the things that kept this from four stars is that Lacey is short tempered and that includes his well-heeled new friend who could help him do better in society so he won’t be living in poverty.

This is a well plotted mystery and Lacey is an interesting character. The idea of human trafficking in this setting was a good one. I did want to slap Lacey more than once though. I know I got this as a free read and I would be interested in seeing more of this series.

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Tags: alternate history, historical mysteries, urban fantasy, young adult

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