Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Author: TheLadyDuckOfDoom Page 1 of 4

The Queens of Renthia Series Review

The Queens of Renthia series by Sarah Beth Durst took me a really long time to read. I read the first book The Queens of Renthia in July 2019, and the last book in September 2022. Each time I started the next book, I regretted that it took me this long to pick it up. But with a TBR as out of control as mine, what am I to do.

The first book introduces the reader to the world of Renthia. The land is full of elemental spirits held under control by the queen. The spirits hate everything and everyone in their normal state, only caring to destroy and kill. Under the queen, they can be coaxed to reluctantly create and build. Some young inhabitants of the land who show elemental affinities can at least control the spirits to do no harm. These become pupils in academias, and the best of the lot can become heirs to the queen if they are selected by the talent-seeking champions.

The story follows Daleina, an academy student, and Ven, a former champion fallen into disgrace. Daleina’s talent is not strong, and while she is under no illusion about the strength of her elemental affinities, she has a strong will to protect and use her powers for the best. What follows is a tale full of twists and triumphs, and while you might be able to guess the ending, there is a lot to explore in the pages between.

On the cover, this seems like a typical YA story of a young, often overlooked girl rising to power, but I can assure you that it’s everything but that. All the characters have deeply layered goals and motivations, and the second and third book are as far as possible from a young adult story.

In the second book, a large part of the story follows a mother with a strong elemental affinity, who is trying to protect her family. The central parts of the story focus on the duties of motherhood, the duties a mother has to herself, and the duty she might have to her threatened country. I won’t tell more because I don’t want to spoil everything.

The third book finishes the trilogy, turning the conflicts between people and spirits, as well as the political conflicts of two countries rivalling for resources to a climax. The author does some very interesting things to twist her take on a typical story solution much further than you would expect. I really, really like what she has done during the final chapters of the book, and I cannot recommend this series more.

5/5 Ducks

Paradox Series Review

Almost a year ago, I published a review of Fortune‘s Pawn by Rachel Bach, lamenting about my book buying ban. The end of the book was a large scale cliffhanger, and I wanted the next books RIGHT NOW.

A few months later, I splurged and bought book 2 and 3 of the series. I am happy to say that they stay as fast paced and action-packed as the first one! The love story is engaging, and there are twist, turns, and backstabbing involved the whole way through. The science fiction universe with it‘s dangers and inhabitants is fun, but not full of new and exiting ideas. And it does not have to be to make this series a delight to read!

5/5 Ducks

Reviewing Books you did not finish…

… and why we think that is ok. We recently got a comment about a review of a book that The Right Honorable Harpy Eagle did not finish, but had a lot to say about. Even writing the review was called out to be very reprehensible. We think differently.

Even DNF’ing (Did Not Finish) a book is very difficult for me, the Lady Duck Of Doom. Often, I feel the need to skim the rest of the book so I can say I have “finished” it. This year, I actually managed to put a book away that I really, really did not like. I was incredibly proud, and vowed to do it again. It is an incredible freeing feeling. In this case, writing a review seemed very pointless to me, as I had no feelings whatsoever about anything in this book except that it wasn’t for me. And I was far too lazy to write a review that’s essentially “It’s me not you”.

But sometimes, it is more than “It’s me not you” that makes you not like a book. Sometimes, there are serious issues with a book. Sometimes, there are so many small details that are just wrong, or just not your cup of tea, that you don’t want to finish the book. These issues can be of all kinds, for example representation, logical or timeline flaws and inconsistencies, racism, or just another sci-fi written by a man with only male characters except for one scarcely clad female hologram. These might not be the issues other readers have with the book, but these are your issues.

So are you essentially forbidden to have an opinion about this book, just because you did not make it until the end? It does not make any sense to me. Are you required to invest time in something you already know you do not like to earn the right to have an opinion? In my opinion, no. And in our small blog, we are absolutely allowed to write about it. Of course, you are free to disagree, but it won‘t stop us 🙂

Not seven more books, but one

Almost 2 years ago, I wrote a raving review about Seven Devils by Laura Lam and Elizabeth May (I now also learned to spell the name correctly. Apologies to the author).

Seven Mercies concludes the action packed sci-fi duology. I was kindly provided with an ARC via Netgalley, but kept pushing the book back on my TBR. Now I also have a signed copy on my hands.

The story starts several months after the end of the first book. I heard it should originally have been about a pandemic, but due to the current world state, most of the book was changed. But I don’t think the quality suffered at all. Filled with a lot of action and the fantastic cast of characters, the book ties every lose end together nicely, finishing the story in a clashing, but satisfactory crescendo. Not entirely unexpected maybe, but I did not expect this book to surprise me. Found family space action seems to be my comfort reading genre of choice.

5/5 Duckies

The Salvagers Series by Alex White

The Salvagers series begins with A Big Ship at the End of the Universe. War veteran, former treasure hunter and reality TV star Boots Elsworth is not only a magical anomaly – born without a mark that let’s her do magic – but also barely scraping by.

Nilah Brio is blessed with the mechanists’ mark. This particular form of magic lets her trace a glyph to interact, hack, und tune all kinds of machinery. And she is a soon-to-be racing champion – think the podraces of Star Wars Episode 1. This all changes when she is framed for a murder. Desperately trying to escape, she crashes into Boots’ office. 5 minutes later, Boots’ former war officer, now Captain of the Capricious, demands Boots’ services again, searching for a treasure everyone thought long gone and takes Nilah as a potential bounty with them.

Nilah wakes up in custody on the Capricious, having been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Framed for a murder, she has a bounty on her head and nowhere to go.

Without spoiling too much, of course they all end up working together to unravel various mysteries and an even deeper secret during the three books.

Neither Boots nor Nilah are particularly likeable at the start of the book, but this is a story of redemption arcs of a ragtag spaceship crew – so give them time. The rest of Capricious’ crew makes up for that in the meantime.

The characters reminded me of tabletop RPGs (if you don’t play one yourself, you might at least have heard of Critical Role), how the most unlikely bunch of people end up working together, diving headfirst from one problem into the next, holding together even when the darkest of pasts catches up to one of its members.

Let’s sum it up: Found family, space, magic, racecars, and a treasure hunt. What more could you possibly want?

5/5 Duckies for the whole series

Duck’s Reading Quarterly

Reading this year has been so slow for me. I focus hard on learning game development, so one of the books I read was a gigantic chunkster about the Unity Game Engine. It was boring as well as educational.

I finished the Powder Mage Trilogy and all its novellas at the start of the year, which I announced in my end of the year post – so I actually read what I had planned. Let’s look back at the series that I wanted to read:

  • Murderbot by Martha Wells: I bought the 6th Murderbot installation, immediately read it in one sitting. Who does not love Murderbot????
  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: I read Cytonic and 2 of the short stories. Evershore is waiting until the short story collection arrives at my doorstep. I cannot behave, I buy books. We might do a collective review of the series as a group.
  • The Hollows by Kim Harrison: Million Dollar Demon was my birthday present and I read it only a week or so after! What an achievement (insert irony here)
  • The Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire: No progress here, but I believe I am at least 2 books behind, so… I’ll let it sit.
  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman: I have The Untold Story on the shelf and plan to read it in the near future, when I need something a bit more fluffy.
  • Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne: I read Paper & Blood recently, and devoured it in a day. It’s funny, it’s wise, it has action, what more do you want? Read the review by TheRightHonourableHarpyEagle for book one here.

Additionally, I finished the First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie as a buddyread with TheMarquessMagpie. It was a blast, the books are 5/5 duckies, review here.

Our Tigana buddyread went a lot worse, but that happens.

Here is the most! important bit of news: I actually managed to DNF a book!!!! Amazing, right? Me and Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston could not connect on any level, and I did not even have the motivation to skim the second half of the book, so I just put it away! Actually, I will sell it, which might be an indicator that I am still a bit ashamed and don’t want to have the culprit near me.

So what’s to come in the second quarter of 2022: Currently, we birdies are having a Mistborn buddyread. I am the only one who knows the story, and I am so excited what the others think! I might join an Instagram buddyread of The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons, if time allows for it. For the rest of my reading, I have made a list of 20 books on my TBR that spark my current attention and roll a D20 to find out my current read! Currently, it’s The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling.

Tigana, or fantasy from another age

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay was our newest attempt at a Buddyread. First published in 1990, we were a bit stunned that this book is 32 years old, older than me. It is a standalone fantasy novel, and the TheMarquessMagpie recently read a much more recent novel by the same author, A Brightness Long Ago, and really enjoyed it.

Tigana is the magical story of a beleaguered land struggling to be free. It is the tale of a people so cursed by the black sorcery of a cruel despotic king that even the name of their once-beautiful homeland cannot be spoken or remembered…

But years after the devastation, a handful of courageous men and women embark upon a dangerous crusade to overthrow their conquerors and bring back to the dark world the brilliance of a long-lost name…Tigana.

Goodreads blurb, 09.03.2022

So off we went to the Lands of the Palm, modeled after Italy in the Renaissance, where we meet Devin, one of our main Protagonists. Devin is a young singer in a troupe and does not really have any defining character traits, but takes more the role of the observer of the story who gets swept up in the plot. This is where TheMostHonourableHarpyEagle left us, without intriguing characters, the book was too slow for her. And she is not wrong, there does not happen much in the book.

While the prose is certainly beautiful and I have passages that I really liked, the book feels a bit like an ancient Greek tragedy. They go this way, meet this person, then the other. Then there is a woman bent on revenge but instead she falls in love. Torn in two, she tries to find a mystical being for help and a prophecy.

There are some things which really show the age of the book, the casual racism for once, the depiction of women as incapable of controlling their feelings another. Each character feels like a certain stereotype, and a strong, non-male character is missing, at least in my opinion.

Then there is the casual incest which really adds NOTHING to the story. Absolutely nothing. The author has written a really good afterword, but the explanation that in face of war and oppression, people tend to act out in other ways is really not enough for me.

While this was a very slow, flawed read for me, it was not all bad, and I would like to quote a part of the authors afterword here:

Tigana is in good part a novel about memory: the necessity of it, in cultural termns, and the dangers that come when it is too intense.

guy gavriel kay

3/5 duckies

Chinese Sci-Fi

The first book I finished this year was a collection of Chinese short sci-fi: Sinopticon 2021: A Celebration of Chinese Science Fiction, curated and translated by Xueting Christine Ni.

I received an ARC by Netgalley ages ago and started reading way back in 2021, but only managed to finish the last 3 stories this year.

This collection features a broad span of different science fiction subgenres, and there were some I really liked, and some that did not click with me at all. I like space and AIs, time travel not so much.

I especially liked the stories “Tombs of the Universe” by Han Song, which is an interesting story about death in a society sprinkled through space, and Starship: Library by Jiang Bo, which is about a library starship – that’s my kind of story right there!

One thing that threw me off was some casual remarks about the “nature of woman”. Kinda eyeroll-y, from my standpoint. One star less for this and the stories I did not like.

4/5 duckies

Last year had quite a lot of shitty books

You might not believe me, but I actually did manage to reach my 100 stories goal mentioned here. Most of this is thanks to the amazing Powder Mage universe by Brian McClellan and its short stories and novellas. I fell in love with them again, and I will start 2022 by FINALLY reading The Autumn Republic. Probably.

I have a couple series to catch up to, which will be my prime reading goal, even if it means buying some books. Murderbot 6 is currently not on my shelf and even though I want to buy less books, some things can’t be avoided. These series include:

  • Murderbot by Martha Wells
  • Skyward by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Hollows by Kim Harrison
  • The Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire
  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
  • Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne

I’ve got a shit-ton of books here and I am excited about most of them. But somehow, my reading last year has come to a giant reading slump, similar to the Marquess Magpie. I believe most of the slump was cause by a) me actively learning stuff and working, so less time for reading and b) there were quite a lot of really shitty books this year.

My resolution is twofold: First, I will preemptively purge my TBR (I’m looking at a certain vampire book here) of books that I have less interest in reading. I tend to have a “work first” mentality and pick the books I don’t really want to read instead of those I really look forward to.

Second: DNF is an option and there is no shame in putting down a book that does not fit, or does not fit my current mood. Those books will have a second chance later.

I would list “more audiobooks” as another resolution, but I am currently watching Critical Role, and I have about 600 hours of content to watch/listen to before me. So I doubt that Audiobooks will work.

I think my kittens are responsible for me reading more at the end of the year, because one just ca not move if there is a kitty sleeping on top of you. So, I might as well read just one more chapter!

I do hope for some Buddyreads with my wonderful friends, but we will have to find books that are right for all of us, and that will prove quite a challenge.

And now I am off to purge the TBR! Cleanse it! Down with the unbelievers!! (What?!)

I am SO behind on my reading goal this year

I did SO MUCH this year. Broke up with my bf, moved into my own space again, started a new job, spend time with my learning: painting, 3D modelling, and game programming. Reading, not so much, unfortunately. I ONLY read 75 books so far, according to Goodreads (yeah, I know. It’s too few for me, for others, it is an unbelievably high number).

My reading goal each year is 100 stories. Not books, but also graphic novels, novellas, short stories. And I really can’t let it sit to not achieve that. So, in the days before Christmas, I have a genius plan to fill my days with reading.

Behold the mighty list:

  • The Mysterious Study of Doctor Sex by Tamsyn Moor
  • The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t by Gail Carriger
  • Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident by Gail Carriger
  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
  • Ascender Vol.3
  • The Return of the Sorceress by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • The Undefeated by Una McCormack
  • Awakening by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Last Witness by K.J. Parker
  • Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
  • City of Songs by Anthony Ryan
  • The Dream-Quest of Velitt Bow by Kij Johnson
  • The Expert System’s Brother by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Alice Payne Rides by Kate Heartfield
  • Monstress Vol. 4
  • Poems to Save the World With curated and illustrated by Chris Ridell
  • Sunreach by Janci Patterson and Brandon Sanderson
  • ReDawn by Janci Patterson and Brandon Sanderson
  • Evershore by Janci Patterson and Brandon Sanderson
  • Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
  • Paper & Blood by Kevin Hearne
  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan
  • Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

It really is a wild ride between everything I like to read, and I hope I finally manage some catching up with the works of Brandon Sanderson and Gail Carriger, among others.

Wish me luck!

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