Dragons and Jetpacks

Dragons & Jetpacks: Books of the Month, January 2017

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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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Goodreads

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.

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Goodreads

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, a lesser god, and an immortal trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.

Theirs is a world in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city. A world transformed by BioChromatic magic, a power based on an essence known as breath. Using magic is arduous: breath can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

But the rewards are great: by using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be performed.

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

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: A Study in Science Fiction

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

For Sci-Fi Month this year, I wanted to create a little ‘study in science fiction’, by taking a look at last year’s sci-fi reads and drawing up some stats and comparisons. This includes things like author and main character gender, year publisher, average Goodreads rating and more. If you want to view the full spreadsheet, you can find it here.

  • In 2015, I read 106 books, and 28 of those were science fiction. This alone surprised me to be honest; I thought it would have been even more. Science fiction and fantasy make up the large majority of what I read, so I was expecting perhaps almost half SF. 8 of these were standalone novels, and 20 were part of a series.
  • This included 10 female authors, 17 male authors, and 1 book that was co-written by both a male and female author. Whilst I don’t go out of my way to purposely read authors of one gender more than the other, I would like to read more female science fiction authors – just because there is so much talent out there.
  • The main characters included 8 females, 16 males and 4 books from both POVs. This made me a little sad. I want more sci-fi from a female point of view. Although is it really surprising? Science fiction seems to still be a very male-dominated field – although interestingly, a lot of the people taking part in this event, and a lot of book bloggers in general, are female.
  • Of the female authors, 4 wrote from a female POV, 5 from a male POV and 1 wrote from both. Does science fiction sell better with male characters or do people think it will? Two of the books with a female author and male POV were by the same author, who uses her initials rather than her first name when writing.
  • Of the male authors, 11 wrote from a male POV, 4 from a female POV and 2 wrote from both. So the exact same number of male authors as female authors wrote from a female POV. However I did read more male authors – it would be interesting to repeat this experiment having read an equal amount of male and female authors.
  • I was quite saddened to realise my reading wasn’t very diverse in terms of decade published! With the exception of just three books, all the rest were published in the 2010s. One was published in the 1950s, one in the 1960s and one in the 2000s. Not representing the classic sci-fi very well here…
  • The lowest rated book of my list on Goodreads was The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill, with an average of 3.32. I believe I might have actually listed this book in a previous Sci-Fi Month as one I was looking forward to reading, but sadly it was a bit of a disappointment when I got round to it and I only awarded it three stars.
  • The highest rated book of my list on Goodreads was Golden Son by Pierce Brown, with an average of 4.46. No surprises, am I right? 😉 Five stars from me!
  • I awarded two 2 stars, six 3 stars, eleven 4 stars and nine 5 stars. I’m quite generous with my ratings, but I also give up on stuff I’m not enjoying, so one star books very rarely even make it.
  • 16 of my ratings were higher than the Goodreads average, and 12 were lower. I don’t think that’s too bad, fairly even.

What do you think of these ‘statistics’? Have you ever looked at your reading habits like this?

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Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: My Top SF Novels of 2016

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This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

With what has become something of a tradition amongst my Sci-Fi Month posts, here are my top science fiction novels of the year, in no particular order! This includes novels read this year, regardless of year published.

Revenger Calamity Vicious by Victoria Schwab

I received a copy of Revenger by Alastair Reynolds for review at the end of September, and had read it within a few weeks. I just absolutely love the whole premise of following a spaceship crew, and Revenger tells the story through the eyes of one of the new recruits, plus it has space scavengers, robots and space battles. Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson is the final book in the series, and was an excellent conclusion. The whole trilogy has just been hugely fun from the very beginning, and I honestly have never not enjoyed a Sanderson book. A previous book group read, Vicious by V.E. Schwab was one that I devoured in a couple of days. I loved reading a villain origin story!

The Lives of Tao Long Way Morningstar

The Lives of Tao (Tao #1) by Wesley Chu was a book I picked up by chance from the library, and I’m so glad I did. It is so clever and unique, and confirmed my belief that Chu is an excellent writer, after reading another of his books last year. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers was, quite honestly, one of my absolute favourite books this year in ANY genre. It felt like it was written just for me, and was exactly what I needed to read. Like I mentioned above, I love stories that follow spaceship crews, and this does nothing but. It’s more about the relationships between the characters and their backstories than any action. In fact, I almost want to re-read it again this year. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown was the conclusion I sorely needed for the entire Red Rising trilogy. I fell in love with the first two books the instant I read them (almost back to back) and waiting for the final book to come out was utter agony. Another series I want to re-read already!

Unwind The Forever War New Pompeii

I thought a little while about adding Unwind (Unwind Dystology #1) by Neal Shusterman to this list, and then decided I would. I was expecting it to be a rather typical dystopian YA, with a horrendous cover that quite honestly reminds me of The Human Centipede, but actually… well, it was terrifying. And really very disturbing. I wasn’t expecting it to affect me in the way that it did, which is why I ended up giving it a higher rating. I’m not normally a fan of military science fiction, but The Forever War (The Forever War #1) by Joe Haldeman was an excellent book. It’s less about the military action, and more about the impact. If these soldiers have to travel through time and space to fight their wars, what happens when they finally return home and hundreds of years have passed back on Earth? How do they adjust to life without families and friends, and in an unfamiliar world? I immediately bought the next two books after reading this. New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey was a book I first saw mentioned in the back of A Darker Shade of Magic, and one that I just KNEW I had to read, as it sounded a bit like Jurassic Park meets the Roman Empire. It’s such a clever story, and that cover is genius!

What were the best science fiction books you read in 2016? Have you read any of the ones on my list?

Review

Review: Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I’d like to blame my lateness for this review on how long it has taken me to gather my thoughts on this book – which was an absolutely EPIC thrill ride of a conclusion to what has quickly proved to be one of my favourite science fiction series.

However, whilst the latter is true, I really have no excuse for how long it has taken me to write this other than I have not been particularly active in the blogosphere for the past few months (my list of currently waiting reviews is rather daunting). So I’d like to apologise to Hodder, who sent me an ARC of Morning Star, and were very careful about who they sent them to. When I received this in the post, I’m pretty sure I screamed, had a little celebratory dance and then immediately settled down to read it, because Golden Son left me with so many questions that HAD to be answered as soon as possible. So I actually finished this in February and planned my review around the release date – and never got round to it. So here we are.

Like Golden Son, Morning Star began a few months later than the previous book, and was completely brutal and action-packed from the very beginning. Pierce Brown excels at serious dramatic moments and action scenes, as well as humorous ones – basically he is one truly talented author. He writes characters so fantastically; the character development throughout this trilogy has been astounding, especially for Sevro. The friendships and complicated relationships shine through, and despite the fact that this is a book sent in space, far into the future, everyone feels so real. It truly makes you wonder whether Darrow would have made it this far without these friendships – I highly doubt it.

Expect more shocks, deaths and devastation from Morning Star than the first two books combined – all the more painful because the reader has now had the time to get to know these characters, has grown attached to them. Brown is unafraid to kill off major players, from both sides, and most of these are completely unexpected and utterly heartbreaking. However, this is war, and that’s what happens. The reader must learn to move on with the story and with Darrow, because death is just a part of war. Watching Darrow push on through all of the heartbreak and pain made for an amazing read that simultaneously made me want to cry, and cheer them all on even more.

The events of the story are made even more horrific by the fact that Darrow’s enemies were once friends and acquaintances. Friends who are now tearing each other apart in order to achieve their goals, some of whom do not care how many people they hurt or kill along the way. With so many twists and turns (in my notebook I just have written ‘THAT TWIST’, but I don’t want to add anything else for fear of spoilers!), Morning Star is sure to leave your heart racing, your hands shaking and your head pounding – for all its brutality and violence, it truly has heart. It provides a perfect, beautiful ending to a fantastic series that I have loved the whole way through, and am going to miss. I may have to do a re-read of all three books back to back…

Dragons and Jetpacks, Top Lists

My Top Ten ‘Dragons & Jetpacks’ Books

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Back in 2012, at the same time that I started blogging, I founded a science fiction and fantasy book group on Goodreads, with two friends from university. After much debate, the group was eventually named ‘Dragons & Jetpacks’. We’ve somehow risen through the ranks of Goodreads groups, going from a very small group to almost 1400 members. We’ve been a featured group many times, and are lucky enough to have some really wonderful people, a core group of highly active members who love to chat about the wonders of SFF.

As a group, we elect one Fantasy and one Science Fiction book each month, and it is up to members whether they read one, both or neither. We also encourage members to organise Buddy Reads – often if a book has narrowly missed becoming Book of the Month, it becomes a Buddy Read. I’ve run three Buddy Reads for the group myself: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight and The Fellowship of the Ring – next up is The Two Towers.

Together we have read around 70 books over three and a half years, some of which I probably wouldn’t have even touched with the group’s recommendations. So I thought I’d share my top ten reads, all a result of the wonderful book group that I am proud to call my own. This only includes books that I read with the group, rather than books read previously that were then voted in as Book of the Month.

Vicious by Victoria Schwab Elantris

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO READ THIS. After reading Schwab’s fantastic A Darker Shade of Magic (another one of our picks, but one I read before the group did), I should have known I would love this. Recent reading has lead me to the following conclusion: I bloody love superhero stories.
  • Elantris (Elantris #1) by Brandon Sanderson – Ahh, my introduction to the wonderful writing machine that is Brandon Sanderson. Whilst this was a relatively short novel for fantasy, it felt so packed and huge and just typical Sanderson – so much enchanting detail, that you don’t want the book to ever finish.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie Red Rising

  • The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie – I also read this one really late, but that was due to myself and my copy of the book being in completely different countries. I’d say that was a pretty good excuse. That does not excuse me, however, from not having yet read books two and three.
  • Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown – THIS BOOK THIS SERIES THIS AUTHOR. I died whilst reading this series. Several times. I had this on my Kindle for AGES, a copy from Netgalley that sat there for far too long – positively criminal. Anyway, after finally sorting things out and actually devouring this book in about two days, I read Golden Son (also a group pick, possibly the quickest voted sequel ever) almost straight after, and Morning Star as soon as I received an ARC. Still smug about that.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss – If you’re looking for a fantasy epic, then you don’t need to look much further than this HUUUUGE book by Patrick Rothfuss. I just love it. Some people say that the books are too slow – we have also read book two in the series as a group, and several members did not like the pace – but I LOVE it. I love all the crazy detail, I have SUCH a good image in my head of how everything looks.
  • The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson – I am an official Sanderson convert, thanks to D&J. In fact I’m reading one of his books right now, and have… five others waiting on my shelf. This man is a GOD. I’m quite surprised we haven’t voted in the rest of the series as Books of the Month to be honest, this one was so loved by everyone.

Locke Lamora The Six Gun Tarot

  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch – Maybe not QUITE the 5-star read I was expecting/hoping for, but still great. Some wonderful grimdark, also I love tales of thieves/assassins/guilds.
  • The Six Gun Tarot (Golgotha #1) by R.S. Belcher – This one was pretty different: a steampunk Western. It makes me think I really need more of those in my life.

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

  • Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey – I feel like this book was a huge success, not just because the group generally enjoyed it, but because my Dad also enjoyed it. He loves his science fiction but doesn’t read that often – mostly just on holidays. He took this one on holiday with him, finished it super quickly and immediately texted me to ask if I had book two. He’s even re-reading the books now…
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I think this was the first book we read as a group, and it was really beautiful and enchanting. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, and I feel like we haven’t read anything quite like it since – a lot of our fantasy has been the heavy epic type. But this was a stunning story, and very visual.

Have you read any of these books? If you’re a member of a book group, has it introduced you to some great reads like mine has?

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: February 2016

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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.

Feb 16

Last month I read a total of twelve books: Holy Cow by David Duchovny, Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas, Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown, Hawkeye: L.A. Woman (Hawkeye #3) by Matt Fraction, Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, Azumanga Daioh Volume 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma, Azumanga Daioh Volume 2 by Kiyohiko Azuma, Azumanga Daioh Volume 4 by Kiyohiko Azuma, Azumanga Daioh Volume 4 by Kiyohiko Azuma, Close Range: Brokeback Mountain and Other Stories by Annie Proulx, A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab and Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari.

I was lucky enough to receive and read not one, but two amazing releases that I’d been anticipating this month: Morning Star and A Gathering of Shadows. Both were so, so fantastic and definitely worth the wait. I also did quite a few re-reads: Crown of Midnight and the Azumanga Daioh series, which is completely adorable. If you want to try a new manga, I highly recommend it – especially if you’ve not read any before, it’s quite a good way to ease yourself into it. I also read Modern Romance: An Investigation by Aziz Ansari, who I love on Parks & Recreation. The book wasn’t quite as funny as expected, but wow it was an interesting read.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read five books towards the DC vs Marvel Challenge, and was able to defeat Mystique, February’s villain! March’s villain is Poison Ivy.
  • I have currently read 26 books towards my Goodreads goal.

 

Currently reading:

The Sisters of Versailles

How was February for you?

Review

#ReadGoldenSon: Review of Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

When I mark a book as ‘read’ on Goodreads and I’m planning on eventually posting a review, I often like to leave a reaction GIF as a placeholder. This was said GIF for Golden Son:

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Thank you, Emma Stone, for so accurately portraying my feelings at the end of this book. That GIF will remain alongside my review, because as they say, a picture (or GIF, in this case) paints a thousand words.

Golden Son was pretty much everything I wanted and expected from Pierce Brown, after the absolute wonder that was Red Rising. However, it was so, so much more brutal than the first book, but that’s what it needed. As the stakes rose, as Darrow’s task grew more and more dangerous and he grew more determined, there needed to be an element to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Brown pulls it off for sure, with this violent and shocking addition to the series that kept me reading and gasping at each twist and turn.

Occasionally, I felt a little bit lost by the (seemingly) endless names, so thank goodness for the character list at the beginning of the book! Whilst I would have enjoyed a bit more about Darrow’s time at the Academy – the book skips a year or so, to move things forward, and I would have liked that element of development, there is really not much else I can fault about Golden Son. The events suddenly felt so much more ‘real’; Darrow was no longer in the confines of his education and training, but out in the ‘real world’. This time, it felt personal.

With a lot more politics this time round, Golden Son had less of the action than Red Rising, but it certainly wasn’t lacking in it. There were so many reveals and surprises, so much going on. And that cliffhanger. Oh… help. I mean, I’m frustrated about having to wait the couple of months between reading Golden Son and the release of the next book, Morning Star, so I feel very sorry for the people who read Golden Son as soon as it came out, and have had that horrendous wait in between (not long to go now!).

Whatever happens in Morning Star, I feel it is going to be even more brutal, even more heartbreaking, and even more astounding than the events of Golden Son. And that is definitely something I do not want to miss.

 

This review is part of the #ReadGoldenSon readalong hosted by Hodder, in preparation for the release of Morning Star.

Golden Son