Book Review: Kushiel’s Avatar ☆☆☆

kaThe land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. It’s inhabited by the race that rose from the seed of angels, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman who recognized that she was pricked by Kushiel’s dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. Phèdre’s path has been strange and dangerous. She has lain with princes and pirate kings, battled a wicked temptress, and saved two nations. Through it all, the devoted swordsman Joscelin has been at her side, following the central precept of the angel Cassiel: Protect and serve.

But Phèdre’s plans will put his pledge to the test, for she has never forgotten her childhood friend Hyacinthe. She has spent ten long years searching for the key to free him from his eternal indenture to the Master of Straights, a bargain with the gods to save Phèdre and a nation. The search will take Phèdre and Joscelin across the world and down a fabled river to a forgotten land. . . and to a power so intense and mysterious, none dare speak its name.  – Goodreads


  • Title: Kushiel’s Avatar (Phedre’s Trilogy #3)
  • Author: Jacqueline Carey
  • Genre: Fantasy, Romance



This was a slow book. Of course each of the three books was at times, but this one was by far the slowest. A huge portion of the story is dedicated to traveling across large swaths of territory, and while it is always nice to be introduced to new places I found myself struggling to stay interested at times.

Also as the story begins to pick up, around page 300 or thereabouts, it gets incredibly dark. I realize this might be a personal tolerance thing, but I found it to be almost oppressive. To be fair it is meant to be dark, and at this point of the story Phedre is facing the greatest threat she has ever encountered. One that threatens not only Terre d’Ange, but the world. The stakes didn’t change the fact that I still didn’t enjoy this part of the book.

On the plus side we finally get around to helping Hyacinthe.   (SPOILER) Phedre frees him from his curse, but c’mon we all knew that was going to happen so is it really a spoiler?  I can tell you I was not a huge fan of  their kissing near the end. Don’t get me wrong I know their history, but that’s exactly what it is now after twelve years. I could almost even forgive Hyacinthe the kiss being as not much has really changed for him, but Phedre you should have more control than that! (SPOILER)   He’s my dude, and I’ve been waiting for this since the end of book one.

Then there’s Imriel.

(SPOILER)   Melisande holds a key piece of information needed in the quest to free Hyacinthe. To gain this information Phedre must agree to find Melisande’s lost son Imriel. I loved the relationship that develops between Imriel, Phedre and Joscelin. You see where it is going a mile away, but it doesn’t matter because you want it to go there.    (SPOILER)

In the end Kushiel’s Avatar wrapped things up nicely even if I found it to be less enjoyable than its predecessors. I am looking forward to reading the Imriel trilogy, but I think I need a break from the world for a bit before I start.


My Rating: ☆☆☆


Currently Reading:

  • Title: Borderline (The Arcadia Project #1)
  • Author: Mishell Baker
  • Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy

Book Review: Binti ☆☆☆

bintiHer name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive. – Goodreads


  • Title: Binti (Binti #1)
  • Author: Nnedi Okorafor
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera


Okorafor does a great job getting across the culture of Binti’s people the Himba, but I would have loved to delve deeper into Binti’s character. I want to know more about the university, and all these alien species which are only briefly mentioned. We see a kind of tribal/healing magic, but I don’t know if it really is magic or just a natural salve which works on a specific species. There is some math mentioned, but there isn’t enough time to incorporate it in a meaningful way. Then there’s the twist at the end. I need to know how this will effect Binti. The story itself is pretty good, but it happens so fast I didn’t really get a chance to process it before it was over.

Here’s the deal.. I liked this novella, but I would have liked it much more in a longer format. The paperback I read had 90 pages, but really it was more like 80. Far too few to give this story justice. That being said I will continue the series when I can.

My Rating: ☆☆☆

Book Review: Leviathan Wakes ☆☆☆☆

8855321Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.



  • Title: Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1)
  • Author: James S.A. Corey
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera



The Goodreads summery basically covers everything plot related I’d be willing to mention myself so I’ll forgo that in this review. I will say that in addition to be a science fiction and space opera story there are elements of noir and horror. Anytime the story is being told through Miller it’s noir so about half the book.

The horror was teased right away, and as the story develops it surfaces more, but honestly it’s drawn with a light touch. I say that using myself as a gauge as I’m not a fan of horror. I won’t even watch scary movies at home. I won’t do it!

There are a couple of things I really liked about this book. First, this is space opera just on a small scale. You space battles, new locales, politics, a looming threat to all life as we know it, and a memorable space ship(s) flown by a small close-knit crew ala Firefly. It’s just that the locales are all planets, moons, and space stations within our own solar system. The major factions are all human, but sufficiently different from each other to seem slightly alien. Also while the crew is reminiscent of Firefly Holden is a boy scout not a rogue. It works though.

Don’t get me wrong I love me some Star Wars scale space opera with numerous alien species, and exotic planets where the roguish captain must save the galaxy. Reading a space opera on a miniature scale was a nice change of pace however. I enjoyed reading about this adventure which was happening right outside. I mean I knew all the places we were going to, or if not I knew kind of where they were located relative to Earth. It made the adventure more real somehow.

Secondly, I enjoyed the opposite way both Holden and Miller saw the world they live in. Holden is a good guy who genuinely believes most other people are good as well, and that given the choice they will do the right thing. Miller on the other hand is jaded, and morally ambiguous. For him the good thing, and right thing are not always the same. When he’s forced to choose between them he will follow his own code. Such as it is.

The author(s) had these characters at odds over transparency, and the release of sensitive information quite often. For Holden the right thing to do is to put all the information out there for the people to see. In his view secrets are the darkness from which evil is birthed. Miller believes that some truths are better left unsaid. That the consequences, foreseeable and not, of exposing some secrets to the public is often more damaging than the secrets themselves. In the interview at the back of the book the author(s) state, and I’m paraphrasing here, that they did this knowing that when it comes down to it both sides are right, and at the same time both sides are wrong. Somewhere in the middle is the truth.

These differing world views, and the fact that this all takes place in our solar system makes for a very realistic and gritty story. I’m not sure I’d want this to become the new norm for the genre, but I did enjoy it a lot. I look forward to continuing the series.

This has no bearing on the story whatsoever, but I love that James S.A. Corey is actually a pen name for two co-authors (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck)!


My Rating: ☆☆☆☆


Currently Reading:

  • Title: Kushiel’s Avatar (Phedre’s Trilogy #3)
  • Author: Jacqueline Carey
  • Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Book Review: Ancillary Mercy ☆☆☆☆

ancmercyThe stunning conclusion to the trilogy that began with the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke award-winning Ancillary Justice.

For a moment, things seem to be under control for the soldier known as Breq. Then a search of Athoek Station’s slums turns up someone who shouldn’t exist – someone who might be an ancillary from a ship that’s been hiding beyond the empire’s reach for three thousand years. Meanwhile, a messenger from the alien and mysterious Presger empire arrives, as does Breq’s enemy, the divided and quite possibly insane Anaander Mianaai – ruler of an empire at war with itself.

Anaander is heavily armed and extremely unhappy with Breq. She could take her ship and crew and flee, but that would leave everyone at Athoek in terrible danger. Breq has a desperate plan. The odds aren’t good, but that’s never stopped her before. – Goodreads


  • Title: Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3)
  • Author: Ann Leckie
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera


Disclaimer: This is the final book in the Imperial Radch trilogy. There will be spoilers in this review for books one and two. You have been warned.



Now I had reduced my expectations for the series after Sword, but Mercy actually addressed many of my issues from that book. For starters the pacing picks up a lot. There is fighting, and ship battles (I just want to quickly say that I liked how the time delay was represented), but also in general it just feels like the story is moving somewhere again.

After the Presger translator residing in Athoek was killed in the last book another one shows up basically out of thin air. (Spoiler) This is actually pretty anticlimactic to be honest, but the translator is needed for the ending. (Spoiler)

Anaander Mianaai finally makes another appearance, and not the “good” Mianaai.  Though I do wish she’d been more epic somehow. (Spoiler) The Mianaai we see acts more like a petulant child then a cunning ruler who has been able to maintain her absolute control of an empire for thousands of years. I’d love to have seen multiple Mianaai’s fighting each other in the finale as well. It didn’t have to be actual fighting. I’d have been perfectly fine with political maneuvering. (Spoiler) This sets off a series of events which will have dramatic ramifications throughout the Radch, and galaxy at large.

I won’t go into the ending, but it felt right, and in a way fulfills Breq’s desire to kill the Lord of the Radch. Kind of. (Spoiler) I mean she is the Radch, and this is going to destroy the Radch as it is now. Surely it will evolve and survive, but it will have become something different. (Spoiler)



Athoek Station gets a much bigger role, and I enjoyed the scenes she was in. Athoek as it turns out is pretty badass! She’s also more likable than any of the ships I can think of. From what I can tell ships care about their crews, but mostly they bond to one person. Stations on the other hand seem to care about everyone of their residents as a whole. And they aren’t as preachy about it. I’m looking at you Breq!

As it turns out I don’t really like Seivarden. I had this romantic idea of this character, thought dead for centuries, growing into a kind of Han Solo role, but that never happened. Honestly I don’t see what purpose this character even had besides to help give contrast to One Esk in Ancillary Justice. I will say I liked how her drug addiction was handled throughout the series. It didn’t really need to be there, but it was well done.

Having completed the series I still have a lot of questions.

(Spoilers) There were strong hints of an unknown third Mianaai identity at Athoek Station. At the very least there was one there at some point in the past. What was this Mianaa’s objectives? If “good” Mianaai wants to stop the practice of endless imperialism, and the making of ancillaries while “bad” Mianaai wants to maintain what had been the status quo then what does this other Mianaai want?

What is going to happen with the AI cores? There are three just sitting there. Will the AIs make ships, or perhaps another station? For that matter what was third Mianaa planning to do with them? I want to know!

Who, what, are the Presger? We have only the vaguest idea from the books, and I’d love to know more about them. If they are the undefeatable, completely sadistic aliens we are led to believe then why do they make treaties with lesser life forms, and then respect those treaties. There has to be more to them.

What was the purpose of the Ghost Gate? It was a giant Chekhov’s gun. I mean so much is made of it only for it to never matter. I know we learn that Sphene is there, but then we never see Sphene, the ship, in the story. Even Sphene, the ancillary, has no real purpose. I kept expecting something to happen with her, but it never did. (Spoilers)



This series was up and down for me. I loved Ancillary Justice, but was disappointed by Ancillary Sword. Don’t get me wrong Sword was a good book, but I had been expecting something with more of an epic scale after the ending to Justice, and instead got the opposite. I had a better idea of what to expect with Ancillary Mercy, and I was pretty happy with the way things ended despite having a few unresolved questions.


My Rating: ☆☆☆☆


Currently Reading:

  • Title: Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1)
  • Author: James S.A. Corey
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Book Review: Kushiel’s Chosen ☆☆☆☆

kushiels_chosenMighty Kushiel, of rod and weal
Late of the brazen portals
With blood-tipp’d dart a wound unhealed
Pricks the eyen of chosen mortals

The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassed beauty and grace. The inhabiting race rose from the seed of angels and men, and they live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay was sold into indentured servitude as a child. Her bond was purchased by a nobleman, the first to recognize that she is one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one. He trained Phèdre in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber—and, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze.

When she stumbled upon a plot that threatened the very foundations of her homeland, she gave up almost everything she held dear to save it. She survived, and lived to have others tell her story, and if they embellished the tale with fabric of mythical splendor, they weren’t far off the mark.

The hands of the gods weigh heavily upon Phèdre’s brow, and they are not finished with her. While the young queen who sits upon the throne is well loved by the people, there are those who believe another should wear the crown… and those who escaped the wrath of the mighty are not yet done with their schemes for power and revenge.



Kushiel’s Chosen is book two in a trilogy. If you haven’t read Kushiel’s Dart this will have spoilers for that book which I will not be hiding. I will however hide any spoilers for this book.



Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but Chosen follows up a year after we left off with Dart. Having saved the queen and the realm Phedre, Joscelin, and her chevaliers have retired to her newly acquired estate inherited from her mentor Delaunay. By all accounts life is quiet, and she is happy, if a little bored. Until one day a package arrives that brings about her to return to Naamah’s service in search of answers. Once again the fate of the realm will rest on her shoulders.



I easily enjoyed this book as much as the first, maybe more. Kushiel’s  Chosen builds upon that foundation built by Kushiel’s Dart taking us to places we have not seen before, and introducing us to new cultures and religions. What makes Chosen different, and arguably better, is a switch of emphasis.

In the first book the emphasis is on all the erotic, action-packed, political, and mystery elements. There are elements of love, and friendship, but these are not truly the focus. In Chosen all these elements are still there, but the focus shifts to the love story between Phedre and Joscelin.

This is a love story above all else instead of being a story which contains a love story.

In Dart our lovers forge a bond through extreme circumstances which in many ways mask their deeply embedded issues. He hates her calling, but loves her enough to accept her completely. The thing is before this can truly be put to the test they find themselves betrayed, alone and surrounded by their enemies fighting for their lives with the fate of the realm hanging in the balance. They save each other’s lives time and time again enduring much suffering in the process. And then it is over. She becomes peer of the realm, and they retire to the a quiet life of  loving bliss.

This time around when Phedre makes the choice to re-enter Naamah’s they both have nothing, but the agonizing stillness of time to test the limits of their love. Day by day, moment by moment, we see the toll this takes on them and their relationship. It is excruciatingly painful to watch. You’ll have to read the book to see how this plays out, but trust me it gets pretty brutal.

I will say that this shift of emphasis caused the book to move very slowly at first. I don’t remember it picking up until somewhere around the 300 page mark. If it had kept pace any longer I don’t think my interest would have held, but Jacqueline Carey knows exactly how much slow languish to allow before letting up.

For whatever reason I found I appreciated Jacqueline Carey’s style of writing more this time around. It was every bit as beautiful last book, but it stood out more to me for some reason. Perhaps because it was a slower book plot wise I was able savor it more?



Kushiel’s Chosen was a good deal slower, but a lot more personal than Kushiel’s Dart. It was above all a love story. In that sense I enjoyed it more, but in fairness Chosen could only happen with the work laid down by Dart.


My Rating: ☆☆☆☆


Looking Ahead:

There are a few things I am really looking forward to in the final book.


First, with all the mentioning of Hyacinthe our boy has to make an appearance in the finale right?! I hope so because I loved his character, and the relationship between he and Phedre.

Then there is this ten year gap Phedre was promised. A lot can happen in ten years! Will she and Jescelin get married? Do they have children? I’d love to see that even if it is at the end of the trilogy.

There was the hint of a, permitted?, love affair between Phedre and Nicola. Not going to lie I’m rooting for some steamy sex between those two. Don’t judge me.

Finally there is Melisandre. Beyond all doubt she will play a huge role in the last book, and our heroine will need to finally get ahead of her instead of always being one step behind. This time just kill the chick and be done with it. Seriously she has more lives than an immortal cat! And who has her kid? My money is on her cousin Marmion who disappeared, but we never really heard about him again. And what does that mean if he is actually working with Melisandre?!



Currently Reading:

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie.