Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, May 2016

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Dragons & Jetpacks is a science fiction and fantasy bookgroup, based on Goodreads. The group is open to all, all that is required is a Goodreads account. We read two books a month, one fantasy and one sci-fi – the second week of each month is when members make suggestions, and the third is used for voting. We’re always happy to meet fellow fans of the genres, so you’re more than welcome to join the group!

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Stranger in a Strange Land

Goodreads

Valentine Michael Smith is a human being raised on Mars, newly returned to Earth. Among his people for the first time, he struggles to understand the social mores and prejudices of human nature that are so alien to him, while teaching them his own fundamental beliefs in grokking, watersharing, and love.

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Uprooted

Goodreads

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

And this month… a special moderator pick:

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Goodreads

Frey is the captain of the Ketty Jay, leader of a small and highly dysfunctional band of layabouts. An inveterate womaniser and rogue, he and his gang make a living on the wrong side of the law, avoiding the heavily armed flying frigates of the Coalition Navy. With their trio of ragged fighter craft, they run contraband, rob airships and generally make a nuisance of themselves. So a hot tip on a cargo freighter loaded with valuables seems like a great prospect for an easy heist and a fast buck. Until the heist goes wrong, and the freighter explodes. Suddenly Frey isn’t just a nuisance anymore – he’s public enemy number one, with the Coalition Navy on his tail and contractors hired to take him down. But Frey knows something they don’t. That freighter was rigged to blow, and Frey has been framed to take the fall. If he wants to prove it, he’s going to have to catch the real culprit. He must face liars and lovers, dogfights and gunfights, Dukes and daemons. It’s going to take all his criminal talents to prove he’s not the criminal they think he is…

Have you read any of this month’s picks? What did you think?

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Top Lists

My Top Ten Series To Continue Reading in 2016

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Inspired partly by Amber reminding me that I need to hurry up and read the rest of the Mistborn series, here are the series I want to continue reading in 2016. This only includes books that are already published. Next week I plan on sharing the series I’ve given up on…

Hero of Ages The Alloy of Law Shadows of Self

I love Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series soooo much – well, the two books of it that I’ve read. So I really need to get my arse in gear and read the remainder of the currently published books, especially as Gollancz sent me a beautiful hardcover of Shadows of Self just before it came out. I’m looking out for some good deals – perhaps 3 for 2 in Waterstones or something – to get myself copies of books three and four.

Voyager Drums of Autumn The Fiery Cross

I fell in love with the Outlander series by Diana Galbaldon in 2015, both the television adaptation and the books. As with Mistborn, I’ve read the first two books but no further. However, most of the rest of the series is waiting for me on my shelf, minus book six and the most recent release, which I’m waiting for in paperback. I can’t wait to escape back to Jamie and Claire, but I have to space these books out because they’re just so huge and epic.

The Tropic of Serpents The Voyage of the Basilisk

I finally read the first book in this series, A Natural History of Dragons at the end of last year. But I still have two more books to go with Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. Titan sent me a copy of the third book, and I can’t wait to get to it – I just need to pick up a copy of book two, although I’m pretty sure my local library has a copy.

Red Seas Under Red Skies The Republic of Thieves

The first book in the Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch was a previous Fantasy Book of the Month for my Goodreads book group. I enjoyed it quite a lot – perhaps not as much as some of the other books we’ve read together, but definitely enough to want to continue. I found the second book in a free (!) book shop, the third I requested on Netgalley when I first started blogging, long before I realised it was part of a series. So not only will this allow me to catch up with the series in time for the release of the fourth book this year, but it will help me tackle my Netgalley ratio.

The Merchant of Dreams The Prince of Lies

Having bought the first book in the Night’s Masque series by Anne Lyle at Bristolcon last year, I was completely swept away by the author’s fantasy version of Elizabethan England and the court politics at the time. I’d love to finish the trilogy soon – this is one of the very few series on this list that is actually completely published.

Queen of Sorcery Magician's Gambit Castle of Wizardry

I was first introduced to the Belgariad series by David Eddings by two of my friends in Leiden. Once they knew I was really into reading, particularly fantasy fiction, they told me I had to try this series and were amazed that I’d not heard of it before they mentioned it. Anyway, the sweeties that they are, they clubbed together to buy me the first book for my birthday – and they were right, I really enjoyed it. It’s quite a long series if you also count the two other series that link into it, but each book is fairly short, especially for fantasy novels.

Before They Are Hanged Last Argument of Kings

The first book of The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie was another one of my book group’s choices for Fantasy Book of the Month. And again, it was something I put off reading for far too long, and I am repeating that with the sequels – both of which are sat on my bookshelf!

The Black Lung Captain The Iron Jackal The Ace of Skulls

Chris Wooding’s Tales of the Ketty Jay series is a perfect, perfect series for fans of the TV series Firefly (taken too early RIP), who are looking for something in book-form to quench that Firefly thirst. Or at least that’s what I assume – because have I read the entire series? No. No I have not. Despite absolutely LOVING the first book and thinking it was everything I needed post-Firefly, I haven’t even touched the sequels. NEED. TO. CHANGE. THAT.

Rebel Spring Gathering Darkness Frozen Tides

I picked up the first book in the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes a year or two ago, thinking it looked like some fun Young Adult fantasy fiction. It was – but I also fell a little bit in love with it. Now apparently the FIFTH book is scheduled for release this year and I haven’t even picked up the second – get a move on, Rinn!

Caliban's War Abaddon's Gate Cibola Burn

The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey is another of my book group’s monthly picks. We have read the first book together, but I have book two waiting me on my shelf. The first book has recently been made into a television series, and I’d quite like to make sure I’m caught up with the books by the time the series catches up to them!

What series are you planning on continuing? Have you read any of these?

Top Lists

Top Reads of 2014

Top Reads 2014

As the title suggests, it’s time to share my top reads of 2014! I read so many good books this year that it’s not a top ten, but a top fifteen… And now, in no particular order:

Lexicon by Max Barry Smiler's Fair by Rebecca Levene Jane Eyre

Lexicon by Max Barry was a wonderful surprise. Sent to me by Hodder, it took a little while for me to pick it up, but I’m so glad I did. It is insanely clever and unique and DEFINITELY worth a read. Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene was another surprise from Hodder (who spoil me!), a fantastic new start to a fantasy series, with a truly gorgeous cover. And Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë… oh this book. I am so SO glad I re-read it!

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor was one of those books that I’d heard such good things about, bought a copy of and still hadn’t read. Then I finally got to it at the beginning of the year, and was blown away. I even met Laini in April, when the third book in the series was released, but I still have yet to read that one. Perfect for my Borgia fascination, Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant is a wonderful piece of historical fiction that I just devoured. It’s got everything you could ever want in historical fiction – backstabbing, court gossip, murder – and everything you would expect from a book about the Borgias. And The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, why did I take so long to get to you?? I have the second book in Leiden, and I’m looking forward to reading it in January.

Brideshead Revisited Insignia by S.J. Kincaid 2495562

Another classic I’m glad I tried, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh is truly wonderful, and completely satisfied my taste for books set in Oxford (yes this is a thing). Insignia by S.J. Kincaid, on the other hand, completely satisfied my thirst for another book similar to Ready Player One. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss is a fantastic, if rather long, follow up to The Name of the Wind. It is one epic fantasy series I will not forget.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud was one of those books that took me completely by surprise; I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did and now I recommend the series to everyone. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes was another wonderful library find, the first in a Young Adult fantasy series that I can’t wait to continue. And when it comes to autobiographies, I’m not sure if you can beat Cash by Johnny Cash. One of my favourite singers, his life was absolutely fascinating to read about and I loved the way it was written too – as if the reader is just sat having a drink with Johnny.

Seraphina Fangirl Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

A very recent addition to my list, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is another one that caught me by surprise. At first I wasn’t sure, but as I read more of the book I was utterly enchanted by her take on dragons. And once again showing that I really need to branch out and maybe not always judge books based on genre, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was an ABSOLUTE treat. I loved Cath and instantly identified with her. And finally, Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding pretty much satisfied my post-Firefly needs. SO GOOD.

What were your top reads this year?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: YA to Adult SF Recommendations

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Science fiction can be a scary genre. The potential that it holds can be daunting, and it can be difficult to know where to start. I know many readers who are more than happy to delve into Young Adult science fiction, but are wary of going any further. So I thought I’d make some recommendations of ‘heavier’ science fiction, based on YA books. Let me know what you think, and feel free to share your ideas!

If you enjoyed Insignia by S.J. Kincaid…

YA to Adult Recs

… then try Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

In both books, real life and online gaming become very entangled. So many of my fellow bloggers have read and loved both of these books! The 80s references only serve to make Ready Player One even more awesome.

If you enjoyed Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld…

YA to Adult Recs

… then try Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding.

Although one is an alternate history, and the other is a space western, they’re both steampunk books that really gave off the same sense of adventure to me. If you loved the steampunk inventions of Westerfeld’s series, as well as the fast pace of the story, you’ll enjoy Retribution Falls!

If you enjoyed All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill…

YA to Adult SF

… then try Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

Why? Because TIMEY WIMEY! Hyperion features a lot of (complicated but amazing) time travel, and is just a fantastic, fantastic book that I can’t recommend enough (seriously I’ve recommended it so many times over the past two and a bit years).

If you enjoyed Divergent by Veronica Roth…

YA to Adult SF

… then try Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

If you want the classic dystopia disguised as a utopia, as seen in Divergent, then give Brave New World a try. It’s a harrowing tale of good intentions gone horribly wrong.

If you enjoyed Cinder by Marissa Meyer…

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… then try Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

If you enjoyed reading about cyborgs in Cinder, then you might enjoy PKD’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? Like the cyborgs in Cinder’s world, the androids of this book are so human-like that it is almost impossible to tell. Philip K. Dick was a master of science fiction, and this is one of my absolute favourite science fiction books.

If you enjoyed Beta by Rachel Cohn…

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… then try House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds.

Now I have to admit that I haven’t actually read Beta, but I really wanted to recommend House of Suns as it is another of my favourites – and as both books are about the lives of clones, I thought it was a good match. Now to read some more Alastair Reynolds and see if he is favourite author material…

What recommendations would you make for someone wanting to move from YA sci-fi to the ‘heavier’ stuff?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2014: Top SF Novels Of The Year

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2014, an event hosted by myself and Oh, the Books!. You can keep up to date by following @SciFiMonth on Twitter, or the official hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Today I want to share with you my top SF novels of the year – by this I mean read this year, not necessarily published this year.

1. The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) by Dan Simmons

The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons

It took me a while, but I FINALLY finished The Hyperion Cantos! Dan Simmons’ epic series ends with The Rise of Endymion, and what a finish it was. The series is huge, complex and very much timey wimey but a DEFINITE recommendation to all science fiction fans out there.

2. Lexicon by Max Barry

Lexicon by Max Barry

Lexicon by Max Barry proved to be one of my surprise hits of the year. I was sent a copy of the book by Hodder & Stoughton, and I’d not actually heard of it beforehand. I’m so glad I made the time to read it before going off to university, because it’s so damn clever and unique and I cannot emphasise how much you should read this if you’re looking for something a little bit different in your sci-fi. You can also read my review of Lexicon.

3. Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

Fan of Firefly? Distraught by the fact that it only got one season? (IT’S NOT FAIR OKAY THERE ARE SO MANY SHOWS THAT SHOULD BE CANCELLED BUT NO THEY CARRY ON) Then give Retribution Falls a try, I can guarantee it has everything you miss from Mal and co.

4. Insignia (Insignia #1) by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia reminded me of a mix of Ender’s Game and Ready Player One, for young teens. Considering that these are two books I love, of course I was going to fall in love with this one! I really need to get my hands on the rest of the series. Any book involving gaming and online communities is pretty much going to grab my attention.

5. & 6. Behemoth & Goliath (Leviathan #2 & #3) by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Behemoth and Goliath, wow WOW. Actually, the whole series, but I read the first book last year. One of my absolute favourite young adult series, this steampunk retelling of the First World War is just SENSATIONAL. Perfect story, amazing steampunk inventions, wonderful characters – plus it’s beautifully illustrated. Yes, yes and yes. You can also read my review of Behemoth.

7. Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes is the first book in a new ‘epic’ sci-fi series that shows a LOT of potential. I’m so glad this one was chosen by my book group because it meant I got round to it sooner. I recommended it to my dad, who is a big sci-fi fan, and he took it on holiday with him earlier this year. He texted me whilst he was away to ask if I had the second book – definitely a hit with him too! You can also read my review of Leviathan Wakes.

8. Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

Lockstep was a wonderful Netgalley find, and is one of the few standalone books on this list. For a relatively short science fiction novel (350 pages or so) it packs a lot in, and it felt huge. Definitely worth a look if you don’t want to delve into another new series at the moment and don’t know where to start!

What are your top science fiction reads of the year? Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: May 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Books Read May 2014

Last month I read a total of fourteen books: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Midnight Crossroad (Midnight #1) by Charlaine Harris, Fantastic Four: Books of Doom by Ed Brubaker, Ms Marvel: War of the Marvels (Ms Marvel #8) by Brian Reed, Insignia (Insignia #1) by S.J. Kincaid, The Amazing Spider-Man: Book of Ezekiel (Amazing Spider-Man #7) by J. Michael Straczynski, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers (Guardians of the Galaxy #1) by Brian Michael Bendis, New X-Men: E is for Extinction (New X-Men #1) by Grant Morrison, Doctor Who: Keeping Up With The Joneses (Doctor Who Time Trips #3) by Nick Harkaway, Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding, Lexicon by Max Barry, The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar, Sabriel by Garth Nix and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia.

I read a lot of graphic novels this month, but I think I’ve read every one I can get my hands on in the county library system… so looks like I’ll have to find them elsewhere from now on. My favourite of the graphic novels was Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers – some great art in there, and I am SO excited for the film! Standout novels included Lexicon, Retribution Falls and Insignia. The latter two are the first books in series, so that’s two more series to continue now…

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read four books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge – two books towards defeating Bullseye, May’s villain, so I didn’t quite manage to beat him. Next month’s villain has been revealed as Loki, so hopefully I’ll be able to take down the trickster god!
  • Last month I raised my Goodreads goal to seventy-five books. I’m now at seventy-one books, so it looks like I’ll be raising it again soon!
  • I read one book for my USA Challenge, which admittedly I’ve mostly forgotten about…

 

Currently reading:

The Quick by Lauren Owen Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence

 

Off the blog:

May has been uneventful… in fact most of the ‘Off the blog’ stuff I shared last month happened in May. Oops! I did go and see X-Men: Days of Future Past on Thursday, and LOVED it. It also reignited my *ahem* ‘interest’ in Michael Fassbender… But apart from that, pretty uneventful! Here’s some stuff from my Instagram:

May Instagram
Left to right: My awesome new Game of Thrones t-shirt from Teefury; scaring myself silly by playing Bioshock in the dark & with headphones; my town has a festival every day and the May bank holiday weekend was just PERFECT for it 🙂
Past Features

Turning Off The TV #4: Firefly

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Firefly.

Firefly

Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them.

One of my absolute favourite series, Firefly was sadly cancelled after one season due to low viewing figures. Since it was aired it has gained a cult following – sadly a little too late. A film sequel to the series, entitled Serenity (which I have the DVD of and STILL haven’t watched!) was released in 2005, and wraps up events. As well as the following recommendations, there are also many books and graphic novels based on the series.

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

I first heard of Avalon when Tory mentioned it during one of her Sci-Fi Month posts. I immediately thought it looked like the perfect book for fans of Firefly – it sounds like a teenage version, and Anya seems to agree according to her review! It’s about a group of teenage mercenaries who captain a ship, and steal to get by – which sounds pretty similar to what the crew of Serenity do! It currently has an average rating of four stars on Goodreads, so it’s doing pretty well!

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

So many of my science fiction loving friends have recommended Leviathan Wakes. It’s one of the books on the Dragons & Jetpacks Ultimate Booklist, a booklist created by my bookgroup where we have compiled all the science fiction and fantasy books we think everyone should read at least once in their lives (one nomination per genre each). Whilst the characters are the crew of an ice mining ship, a little different compared to Serenity, a major element of the plot is a crucial female character, whom the crew must protect from the authorities – a bit like River in Firefly.

Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay #1) by Chris Wooding

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

The crew of the Ketty Jay, the spaceship in Retribution Falls, are perhaps even more like the crew of the Serenity: space pirates. And like each member of the Serenity crew, the crew of the Ketty Jay all have secrets hidden away that will slowly be revealed as the story progresses. This is another one that comes highly recommended by many of my Goodreads friends!

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any to recommend? Are you a fan of Firefly?