Gods of jade and shadow

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

As fate would have it, I ended up with two copies of Silvia Moreno-Garcia‘s Gods of Jade and Shadows. I won an ARC through Goodreads initially, and then someone left a copy in the Little Free Library.
gods of jade and shadow

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.

my review

Oh, I thought this was marvelous. And I don’t even think I realized, as I was reading it, how much I loved it. It is after all a bit on the slow side, with quite a lot of exposition. It was only in finishing it and looking back at the journey as a whole that I sighed in true contentment.

We’re given a strong, competent heroine who gets everything she wished for—if not in the way she imagined it—by doing the right thing in difficult situations. We have a villain who is recognizable and realistic. We have two gods and a whole cosmos of divinity that are inhumane but relatable. They are, after all, gods, not humans. We have a subtle romance based in the heart, not the loins. And the whole thing is steeped in shades and tones of oral history, as if this is a myth being told.

True, the sudden shift in Hun-Kame and Vucub-Kame’s attitudes at the end are jarring and hard to believe. But, as the book repeatedly reinforces, symbolism and myth-making are important. And the inner workings of gods, when influenced by the imagination of man is beyond the mundane.

And lastly, my favorite part is right at the end. I just need a chance to vocalize it because I’m having all the feel about it. But it’s a spoiler, so skip this paragraph if you haven’t read the book yet. Hun-Kame sent Casiopea a final gift, ostensibly the bag of black pearls he’d promised her. But I don’t actually think the pearls were the gift. He sent them via Loray and I think he’s the unspoken gift—a companion, someone worldly and open to usher and assist her in finding her feet in her new free world. And there is just something wonderful about that.

network effect fugitive telemetry

Book Review: Network Effect & Fugitive Telemetry

I pre-ordered a hardback copy of Network Effect and received an e-copy of Fugitive Telemetry through Netgalley.

Description from Goodreads:

Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you’re a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you’re Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

Review:

OMG, full length Murderbot book; cue incoherent and excited babbling. Except, I do this weird thing when I’m really excited to read a book. I buy it and then I sit on it. Not literally, I just mean I don’t immediately read it. I don’t know why. But I do it often enough to recognize a pattern and I did it with Network Effect. So, I’ve had the book and the anticipation for a while now. But I read it yesterday. So good.

I did think the beginning a bit rough. Murderbot has a tendency to sarcastically name thing and make internal commentary. The result was several passages I had to read more than once to grasp the meaning. At one point, for example, Murderbot entered a room with what I thought was 2 people (and Amena). I had to go back and read it again and again because I couldn’t figure out how some were dying and still running away. Turns out it was 4 people; I’d just misunderstood Murderbot’s naming structure.

It did smooth out and I loved seeing Murderbot grow. I think there is more emotional growth in this book than all the others combined. And please give me more of ART and Three. I’m so curious about Three! I, as always, look forward to continuing the series.


fugitive telemetryDescription from Goodreads:

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!

Review:

After stepping away from Preservation Station in Network Effect, we’re back during Fugitive Telemetry. It was a little jarring, because it didn’t feel like it fit the timeline, like maybe FT should have come before NE. But either way I enjoyed it after those first few disconcerting “when am I” moments.

As always, Murderbot is wonderfully sarcastic. Here we see it working with people who aren’t (or aren’t yet) it’s people. It’s a struggle sometimes. As was Murderbot trying and do it’s job while ham-stringed by not being able to hack the computer systems. It was forced to interact with outside individuals more. All of it was a lot of fun.

The writing is readable and editing clean, as it has been with all the books so far. I can’t wait for more.

shards of a shattered soul

Book Review: Shards of a Shattered Soul, by S.C. Stokes

I purchased a paperback copy of S.C. StokesShards of a Shattered Soul (Strife of Souls, #1).

shards of a shattered soul

Bathed in Dragon’s fire, Vera Sandrinas has stared into the jaws of death and lived. 

With her dying breath she pleaded with the Allfather for her life, and it was granted.

But when war breaks out in heaven, the magic dividing the realms of the living and the dead is torn asunder.

As the undead rise, Vera learns that divine mercy always comes at a price.

Can Vera seal the rift between realms in time? Or will her debt cost her everything?

my review

This was an OK read, but I have a couple complaints. First off, I didn’t know it is a spinoff series when I bought it. (This annoys me so much. Why can’t authors make this more obvious?) And while I could read and follow it, I 100% felt I was missing a lot having not read the A Kingdom Divided series first. I wouldn’t suggest reading this on it’s own. You feel you’re missing a lot and then it’s not a complete story arc. So, you feel you’re missing both a beginning and an end.

Second, the description suggests Vera is the main character. I would posit that she, in fact, is not. Tristan, who appears to have been the main character in the A Kingdom Divided series (according to the blurbs) is the main character here too. Vera is a side character through whose eyes we get to see the gory that is Tristan. Maybe that will change as this series progresses, but as of the end of this book that’s my opinion.

Lastly, the whole thing is a little thin. You can see Stokes building a huge arc in what is a 225 page book. That means there isn’t a lot of depth to most of it. Some of this is, again, because it’s a spinoff and that needed character development and world building probably happened in the first series. But some of it is just that too much is skimmed over and explained in exposition. As a result you never feel you really connect with anyone or anything.

Having said all that, I liked the characters. The series-wide arc looks to be an interesting one, and the writing is quite readable.