Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month (Tuesday this month, due to the Book of Apex tour!) , I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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This month I read fifteen books, which as far as I’m aware is a personal record! Admittedly there were a couple of novellas and graphic novels, but I’m happy with my progress. The Death Pit by A.L. Kennedy, Into the Nowhere by Jenny Colgan, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, Archaeology: the Basics by Clive Gamble (refreshing my memory!), Supernatural: Origins by Peter Johnson, The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon, The Creature in the Case (The Old Kingdom #3.5) by Garth Nix, Watchmen by Alan Moore, Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues by Gail Simone & Walter Geovanni, Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor, The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, Mass Effect: Foundation by Mac Walters, The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells and The QI Book of the Dead by John Lloyd.

Standout books include Brideshead Revisited, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Screaming Staircase. I’ve now read fifteen books towards my goal of fifty for this year – so I may have to raise it, but I also have to remember that my reading will greatly decrease from mid-August.

 

Challenge progress:

 

Currently reading:

Mistborn (The Final Empire #1) by Brandon Sanderson The Trojan War by Barry Strauss

 

Reviews on the blog on this month:

 

Other posts:

 

Upcoming:

  • I’m taking part in the Book of Apex tour, organised by Andrea @ Little Red Reviewer. Yay, speculative fiction!
  • I’m also taking part in Insta-love 101, hosted by the lovely ladies at A Novel Idea. Boo, insta-love!
  • And finally: the Review Copy Cleanup hosted by Books, Biscuits & Tea! and Nyx Book Reviews – time to tame that Netgalley ratio!

 

And that’s been my month! Pretty busy I think! How was January for you?

Review

Review: Red Sonja, Queen of the Plagues (Volume 1) by Gail Simone & Walter Geovani

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

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

I have to admit, I know nothing about the original Red Sonja series – apart from that it’s a ‘swords and sorcery’ fantasy, complete with busty women wearing chainmail bikinis.

This reboot series continues the traditional – but it works. It doesn’t feel over the top cheesy, it doesn’t feel silly. Although Sonja is not really in the habit of wearing much, the reader knows that the respect and attention she commands is not due to her body or what’s on show, but her skill and talent. From the very beginning her character is set up very nicely – the book opens with a small gang of thieves ready to rob Sonja whilst she sleeps in a drunken haze. Not that it stops her from absolutely terrifying them. Immediately the reader knows that this is a lady that you shouldn’t mess with – but she’s also someone who knows when to show mercy.

One thing I loved about the book was that Sonja was not the only skilled female warrior. In fact there was a whole army of them. It seems to be a common trope in fantasy – a women who is particularly talented at fighting or using weaponry, and even in these fantasy worlds where these sorts of skills are practically necessary for survival it’s still shocking and unusual. Not in this world.

The story is quick-paced, with smoothly flowing action scenes, and just generally good fun. My only complaint is how easily Sonja gives up because of a certain event about halfway through the story. From how she acts throughout the first half, I would expect her to take any negative events and use them to motivate her into saving and protecting more people. But no, she just gives up – that was quite disappointing to be honest. To have such a positive and strong character suddenly reduced to nothing just didn’t seem right, but it did open up paths to her origin story which was very sad.

Although the book contains typical fantasy fare – scantily-clad women, female armour not being much more than a bikini, brawny men – it’s all in good spirit and is quite aware of how silly it is sometimes. I mean who in their right mind would go into battle wearing not much more than their underwear? It also had it’s humorous moments, like Sonja’s reaction when all the pubs in the city are closed down.

As for the artwork – it was brilliant, and the issue covers and bonus material covers were stunning, showcasing an array of talents by various female artists. Overall, a recommended read for fans of ‘swords and sorcery’ fantasy who don’t mind their protagonists wearing a little less than a chainmail shirt!