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What Rachel’s Reading

December 9, 2020

Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Superhero

 

Well booklovers, I finally got my most-anticipated book of 2020 this month, Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War, book 4 of the Stormlight Archive. This is my favourite epic book series, and this volume didn’t disappoint! I’ve been restraining myself from rereading it again immediately – I’m saving that for Christmas! If you like epic fantasy and haven’t heard of Brandon Sanderson, you probably haven’t ever talked to me about books (I may be known to recommend his books often). I opted for the US cover, with the beautiful commissioned Michael Whelan cover. Email us if you’d like to order in a copy – they take around a week to arrive.

 

After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage, and the threat of a betrayal by Dalinar’s crafty ally Taravangian looms over every strategic move.

Now, as new technological discoveries by Navani Kholin’s scholars begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of the Radiant ideals, and potentially reveal the secrets of the ancient tower that was once the heart of their strength.

At the same time that Kaladin Stormblessed must come to grips with his changing role within the Knights Radiant, his Windrunners face their own problem: As more and more deadly enemy Fused awaken to wage war, no more honorspren are willing to bond with humans to increase the number of Radiants. Adolin and Shallan must lead the coalition’s envoy to the honorspren stronghold of Lasting Integrity and either convince the spren to join the cause against the evil god Odium, or personally face the storm of failure.

 

I decided to try reading more of the books that have gotten rave reviews and been on my reading list for awhile, so I picked up Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots. This is a superhero book that looks at the human cost of heroes, the henchmen that serve their villains, and the importance of properly executed spreadsheets. Who doesn’t love a good spreadsheet?? Okay, maybe most people, but this book is super compelling and unique, and definitely worth a read. As far as I know, this book is a standalone, though the author has said she might go back to the universe someday.

 

Anna does boring things for terrible people because even criminals need office help and she needs a job. Working for a monster lurking beneath the surface of the world isn’t glamorous. But is it really worse than working for an oil conglomerate or an insurance company? In this economy?

As a temp, she’s just a cog in the machine.

But when she finally gets a promising assignment, everything goes very wrong, and an encounter with the so-called hero leaves her badly injured. And, to her horror, compared to the other bodies strewn about, she’s the lucky one.

So, of course, then she gets laid off.

With no money and no mobility, with only her anger and internet research acumen, she discovers her suffering at the hands of a hero is far from unique. When people start listening to the story that her data tells, she realizes she might not be as powerless as she thinks.

Because the key to everything is data: knowing how to collate it, how to manipulate it, and how to weaponize it.

By tallying up the human cost these caped forces of nature wreak upon the world, she discovers that the line between good and evil is mostly marketing. And with social media and viral videos, she can control that appearance.

It’s not too long before she’s employed once more, this time by one of the worst villains on earth. As she becomes an increasingly valuable lieutenant, she might just save the world.

 

Like many books, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho had also been on my reading list for a long time! I’d read fantastic things about it online, and had some mixed reviews from friends, and I’ll admit, when I picked it up, the first chapter or two really didn’t grab me – until the ghost of the protagonist’s former mentor stepped in, and the plucky and ambition orphan Prunella was introduced, and I was hooked. I thought this book was a standalone, but I’ve just looked it up and there is in fact a sequel, which looks like it follows different main characters, so I’m now looking forward to reading that one too!

 

In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the eminent Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but a malicious faction seeks to remove him by fair means or foul.

Meanwhile, the Society is failing its vital duty – to keep stable the levels of magic within His Majesty’s lands. The Fairy Court is blocking its supply, straining England’s dangerously declining magical stores. And now the government is demanding to use this scarce resource in its war with France.

Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she’s drudged all her life, and a visit by the beleaguered Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries – and she intends to make the most of it. At his wits’ end, the last thing Zachariah needs is a female magical prodigy! But together, they might just change the nature of sorcery, in Britain and beyond.

 

 

 

Rounding out my list of picks from what I’ve read this month is Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book – I’d clearly forgotten the synopsis by the time I got around to starting it, so it rather surprised me! I’d read some of her YA series, and this book is very different in tone. It’s a rather dark mystery-fantasy, and I couldn’t put it down. I suppose it would technically be classed as urban fantasy (it’s set at Yale, more or less present-day), but it is unlike most other urban fantasy – it’s much grittier and real feeling. The book jumps back and forth in time, slowly revealing its secrets, and it was a captivating read. However, it’s certainly not what one would call a light-hearted book – it covers trauma, abuse, drug use, and of course, murder.

Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class.

A dropout and the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved crime, Alex was hoping for a fresh start. But a free ride to one of the world’s most prestigious universities was bound to come with a catch. Alex has been tasked with monitoring the mysterious activities of Yale’s secret societies – well-known haunts of the rich and powerful.

Now there’s a dead girl on campus and Alex seems to be the only person who won’t accept the neat answer the police and campus administration have come up with for her murder. Because Alex knows the secret societies are far more sinister and extraordinary than anyone ever imagined. They tamper with forbidden magic.

They raise the dead. And sometimes they prey on the living . .

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