Book Review: Leviathan Falls (The Expanse, #9) by James S. A. Corey

Title: Leviathan Falls
Series: The Expanse, #9
Author: James S. A. Corey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: November 30, 2021
Length: 528 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Laconian Empire has fallen, setting the thirteen hundred solar systems free from the rule of Winston Duarte. But the ancient enemy that killed the gate builders is awake, and the war against our universe has begun again.

In the dead system of Adro, Elvi Okoye leads a desperate scientific mission to understand what the gate builders were and what destroyed them, even if it means compromising herself and the half-alien children who bear the weight of her investigation. Through the wide-flung systems of humanity, Colonel Aliana Tanaka hunts for Duarte’s missing daughter. . . and the shattered emperor himself. And on the Rocinante, James Holden and his crew struggle to build a future for humanity out of the shards and ruins of all that has come before.

As nearly unimaginable forces prepare to annihilate all human life, Holden and a group of unlikely allies discover a last, desperate chance to unite all of humanity, with the promise of a vast galactic civilization free from wars, factions, lies, and secrets if they win.

But the price of victory may be worse than the cost of defeat.

And so, my friends, we come to the end. Excuse me while I wipe away my tears…

The Expanse series has been a thrilling ride since the very beginning, and the key to its glory is not just the politics and space adventures and battles (which are all excellent), but the people. Simply put, the characters in this series are incredibly human and real, and I love them all so much… which is why I’m feeling a bit emotional over reaching the conclusion to their journeys.

I won’t go into plot details for this book, because there’s little point when this is the 9th book in a huge, sprawling, intricately detailed series. What I will say is that the tension continues to ratchet up, almost unbearably. Even at 80%, I couldn’t imagine how the authors would manage to provide an ending that addresses the central conflict in a way that works.

Well, they did. And it works. And it’s devastating in many ways, but also right and satisfying and deeply moving.

As with the rest of the series, in Leviathan Falls I once again had to concentrate hard and still accept that some of the science and terminology and concepts would go completely over my head. That’s fine — the fact that I don’t really grasp the technological details doesn’t in any way keep me from becoming totally immersed in the story. I also struggle at times to visualize where the various systems and ships and planets and moons are in relation to one another, especially when all the different players are in transit and engaging and disengaging… but again, it only matters up to a point. There’s a lot of action and a lot going on, and I got enough to understand the basics of who’s where and what they’re doing.

The fates of certain characters absolutely broke my heart, but there’s a rightness and satisfaction in how it all ends.

It’s not easy to tie up such a huge story as The Expanse. After nine books (all 500+ pages) and eight novellas, there’s a lot of plot to resolve, but the authors pull it off magnificently.

I’m sorry to see it all come to an end, but wow, it’s been an incredible journey.

After finishing Leviathan Falls, what remains for me to read are:

  • The Vital Abyss: A novella that takes place between books 5 & 6. (Note: Between when I started writing this post and when I finished, I also managed to read this novella. Fascinating.)
  • The Sins of Our Fathers: This novella takes place after the events of Leviathan Falls, and I’m really excited to read it, probably coming up next in my reading queue. After a quick peek, I realized that it’s about a character whose fate I’d expected to see addressed by the conclusion of the main series, but wasn’t. Can’t wait to start!
  • Memory’s Legion: This newly released hardcover is a collection of all the previously novellas (The Sins of Our Fathers is new to this edition, as well as being available as a stand-alone e-book). I’ve already read the rest of the novellas, but I’m thinking I might read through them all again, either in print or via audiobook.

The Expanse series is truly a science fiction masterpiece, and Leviathan Falls is a fittingly excellent conclusion to the series.

All that’s left for me to say is what I’ve been saying all along: If you’re a science fiction fan and haven’t read these books, you absolutely must give them a try!

Book Review: Tiamat’s Wrath (The Expanse, #8) by James S. A. Corey

Title: Tiamat’s Wrath
Series: The Expanse, #8
Author: James S. A. Corey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: March 26, 2019
Length: 537 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper.

In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable. But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay.

At the heart of the empire, Teresa Duarte prepares to take on the burden of her father’s godlike ambition. The sociopathic scientist Paolo Cortázar and the Mephistophelian prisoner James Holden are only two of the dangers in a palace thick with intrigue, but Teresa has a mind of her own and secrets even her father the emperor doesn’t guess.

And throughout the wide human empire, the scattered crew of the Rocinante fights a brave rear-guard action against Duarte’s authoritarian regime. Memory of the old order falls away, and a future under Laconia’s eternal rule — and with it, a battle that humanity can only lose – seems more and more certain. Because against the terrors that lie between worlds, courage and ambition will not be enough… 

I’m not sure how much point there is in my writing reviews of the books in this series at this point. Tiamat’s Wrath is #8, and it’s amazing… but I don’t want to talk too much about the plot, and honestly, if you haven’t read any of the books, none of this is going to make any sense.

But trust me, this is a fabulous series, and #8 — the 2nd to last novel!! — is as excellent as I’d expected.

In this book, the underground begins to fight back against the overwhelming might of the Laconian Empire. Against the backdrop of intrigue and rebellion and intergalactic battles, we once again become immersed in the lives of the featured characters — including our beloved core crew, but also a couple of new lead characters who are surprising and who take the story in unanticipated directions.

The plot shifts between the various systems connected by the ring gates and the capitol buildings of Laconia. As the battles range, the dangers mount — but the most dangerous force is the ancient alien civilization that the Laconian High Consul has been intentionally poking. (Don’t poke the bear!!) The humans have wars to wage, but it’s this other force that ultimately may bring humanity to its demise.

Stakes are high, and the action is dramatic, but once again it’s the more intimate stories of the characters that touch me and intrigue me and, in some cases, leave me gasping and wiping my eyes.

It’s a rare talent in the world of sci-fi fiction that can strike at such an emotional level while still keeping the plot and action tearing along at an incredibly fast pace. The Expanse series continues to keep this balanced approach going, even this deep into the storyline, which is probably why I love it so much.

That, and I just adore the characters.

Once I started, I simply couldn’t stop, and tore through this hefty book as quickly as I possibly could (while still taking time for work and sleep). I do intend to enforce a break for myself at this point… must read other books before racing ahead to the end of the series!

When I do continue…

Next up for me will be the novella Auberon, a 78-page novella that takes place either during or after the events of Tiamat’s Wrath. (It’s listed as #8.5 on Goodreads, but I haven’t wanted to look too deeply into the plot details before I read it.)

And after Auberon… it’ll be on to the final book in the series! I’m really not ready for it to end.

Book Review: Persepolis Rising (The Expanse, #7) by James S. A. Corey

Title: Persepolis Rising
Series: The Expanse, #7
Author: James S. A. Corey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: December 5, 2017
Length: 608 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In the thousand-sun network of humanity’s expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the aging gunship Rocinante have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace.

In the vast space between Earth and Jupiter, the inner planets and belt have formed a tentative and uncertain alliance still haunted by a history of wars and prejudices. On the lost colony world of Laconia, a hidden enemy has a new vision for all of humanity and the power to enforce it.

New technologies clash with old as the history of human conflict returns to its ancient patterns of war and subjugation. But human nature is not the only enemy, and the forces being unleashed have their own price. A price that will change the shape of humanity — and of the Rocinante — unexpectedly and forever… 

Seven books in, this series continues to take my breath away!

The sixth book, Babylon’s Ashes, leaves off at a satisfying stopping point (which may be why the TV show ends the story there). A vast war has come to an end, and there’s new hope for peaceful and productive coexistence, with new governing and coordination structures in place to bring the various factions together. And all of our heroes are well and happy! It’s certainly tempting to stop right there…

But I just had to see what the authors had in store for us next. And whew, it’s a lot!

Persepolis Rising opens almost 30 years after the events of Babylon’s Ashes — and boy, is it disconcerting. Our beloved crew on board the Rocinante is still going strong, but rather than being the young(ish), brash group we’ve come to know, they’re all middle-aged (and then some). And yet, the gang is still together, and it’s wonderful! Sure, they’re older, but they’re still amazing, and their lives are going well.

And we just know that can’t last, right?

Over 30 years earlier, as human colonists explored the vast new systems opened to them, a group of Martian military leaders absconded with a bunch of warships through the ring gate to the Laconia system, then closed off all contact with the rest of the human population. Since then, wars and skirmishes and struggles continued without them, and most people didn’t think about them very often, especially once the last war (which they contributed to) came to an end.

The Laconians have not been idle all these years. Instead, under the leadership of their high consul, they’ve been developing highly advanced warships and weaponry using ancient alien tech — and as Persepolis Rising opens, the Laconian Empire is ready for intergalactic domination.

As the Laconian ships reenter shared space, their domination is undeniable and unpreventable, and their victory over any resistance is absolutely ensured from the get-go. This new dictatorship presents itself as nice and reasonable, declaring that all people everywhere are now Laconians, and anyone who resists isn’t fighting for freedom, but is merely a criminal disobeying the empire’s laws.

The action accelerates at a breathtaking pace, but as is typical of these books, the scenes of space warfare and high-speed action are balanced by more personal moments with the central characters. It’s a skillful presentation that centers the high stakes drama on the people at its heart, and it works incredibly well.

I know I’ve raved about all the books in this series, so my 5 enthusiastic stars for Persepolis Rising surely isn’t a surprise. The series is phenomenal. I had a little hesitation about starting such a long book this week, but once I started, I could barely come up for air.

By the end, I was on the edge of my seat, as well as wiping away a few tears and practically panicking over certain unresolved plot threads… so is it any wonder it took me no longer than 10 minutes to realize I absolutely had to keep going?

So yes, I’ve already started book #8, Tiamat’s Wrath, and at this point, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m going to want to keep going straight through to the final book from there.

The books of the Expanse series are not easy. They’re huge, densely packed with detail and plot developments. You can’t read these books without your attention fully engaged — believe me, it just won’t work! That said, it’s well worth the effort and the time to enjoy and absorb each new addition to the ongoing saga. I’m loving these books, and while I’m dying to see how it all turns out, I know I’ll also be sad to reach the end of the journey.

Book Review: Babylon’s Ashes (The Expanse, #6) by James S. A. Corey

Title: Nemesis Games
Series: The Expanse, #6
Author: James S. A. Corey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: October 24, 2017
Length: 576 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The sixth novel in James S. A. Corey’s New York Times bestselling Expanse series–now a major television series from Syfy!

A revolution brewing for generations has begun in fire. It will end in blood.

The Free Navy – a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships – has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.

James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone. Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.

But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun. As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny, and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante‘s problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.

I’ve spent the past week in the midst of galactic war, and it may take me a while to recover!

I had to psych myself up to read Babylon’s Ashes, the 6th book in the Expanse series. The series is huge in scope, and the books themselves are pretty huge too — large, chunky books dense with ships and space and rail guns and trajectories and science fiction terminology… and I have to say, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of each and every one.

It’s difficult at this point to separate the experience of reading the books from that of watching the (outstanding) TV series. The overarching storyline of Babylon’s Ashes matches up with the events of the 6th and final season. For the TV version, it does feel like the storyline comes to a reasonable stopping place — although there are clearly plenty more adventures that could be told, since there are three more books in the series. I finally dove into Babylon’s Ashes after finishing the 6th season, and meshing the two different approaches created a terrific reading experience.

In Babylon’s Ashes, all hell has broken loose. The solar system’s political balance has been violently upset by a ferocious attack on Earth (see Nemesis Games, book #5) that’s wiped out huge swathes of the population and left the planet with an unsustainable future. This is just part of the plan for Marco Inaros, leader of the Free Navy, the Belter military arm whose goal is to establish Belter dominance and defeat Earth and Mars once and for all.

And while the Free Navy, as the symbol of an historically oppressed people’s rise to freedom, has some claim to a righteous cause, it soon becomes clear that its main function is to further advance Marco’s enormous narcissism and personal vendettas. As he denies food, air, and water supplies to his own people — who are desperately in need — for the sake of political power plays, his supporters begin to question his methods, and the Free Navy develops fractures just when it’s starting to seem surer of victory.

Meanwhile, people like the crew of the Rocinante — our heroes!! — are out fighting the good fight, not just for Earth or Mars or the Belt, but for the sake of humanity having a shot at a future.

This book is just as detailed as the earlier ones, and it takes a great deal of concentration to follow the huge cast of characters, the planets, the political factions, and the mechanics of it all. That said, it’s worth it! I loved every moment, despite having to rely on various fandom wikis to figure out who some of the more obscure characters were and just where they might have shown up previously.

The action is thrilling and scary. I have to admit that it was helpful for me to have watched the TV series, because I’m not sure how well I could have envisioned the space battles and types of ships and weapons and stations without it. That said, it’s all described in marvelous detail, and my inner sci-fi geek enjoyed the hell out of it.

Another element that’s different (but great) about the books is how they take into account the laws of physics and the vastness of space. In the TV series, when a space battle happens, it’s all super fast and immediate — but as the book makes clear, just because one ship is burning fast to ambush another, they still have to travel to get there, so it may take weeks before a planned assault happens. Somehow, that sense of time and distance being factored into the action makes it feel more realistic (but I understand that it wouldn’t work very well on TV to have to interrupt the action to allow for lengthy travel times).

This is not a series to just jump into in the middle, in case that’s not obvious, so if you’re interested, start at the beginning with Leviathan Wakes. I mean, it MIGHT be possible to pick up the story at this point after watching it on TV, but I still think it would be confusing, and why would you want to miss out on the satisfaction of reading the whole thing?

For those who’ve been watching the TV series, the reading experience will be different from here on out, because after Babylon’s Ashes, there will be no TV seasons to mirror the books in the series. We’re in uncharted territory, people! And while the TV version makes changes to characters, places, and events, it’s been close enough to give a good representation of each book’s major plotlines and action sequences. As I move forward to #7, I’m faced with the reality that from now on, there will be no screen action to accompany my reading… so I’ll have to envision all the dramatic torpedoes and rail guns and space maneuvering in my head. I hope I’m up to the challenge!

Now that I’ve finished Babylon’s Ashes, the only thing holding me back from continuing straight on to the next book is how BIG the books all are, and the fact that I do have other books to read! That said, I’m not going to let too much time go by either — I’m hoping to finish the remaining books in the series by the end of this year (but don’t hold me to it!)

Next up for me in the Expanse series:

Strange Dogs: A novella that takes place sometime around or after the events of Babylon’s Ashes

Persepolis Rising: Book #7!

Shelf Control #305: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Gideon the Ninth
Author: Tamsyn Muir
Published: 2019
Length: 448 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Emperor needs necromancers.

The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman.

Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.

Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and prepares to launch her daring escape. But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free without a service.

Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House and bone witch extraordinaire, has been summoned into action. The Emperor has invited the heirs to each of his loyal Houses to a deadly trial of wits and skill. If Harrowhark succeeds she will become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die.

Of course, some things are better left dead.

How and when I got it:

I bought a paperback at some point in the last two years (and picked up book #2, Harrow the Ninth, too).

Why I want to read it:

I remember seeing tons of reviews for this book when it came out, most using the tagline lesbian necromancers in space — and yes, that definitely grabbed my attention! I have reader friends who became obsessed with this book (and its sequel), although I’ve definitely seen my share of negative reviews as well.

This does seem like something I’d love, and I’m excited to read it. I think the only reason I haven’t so far is that when I first planned to get started, I got a little intimidated by what seemed like a lot of world-building to absorb up front, and I just wasn’t in the right state of mind to focus at that moment. But now I’m ready!

The third book, Nona the Ninth, comes out later this year, so this seems like a good time to finally dive in.

What do you think? Have you read this book, and if so, do you recommend it? Or if you haven’t read it, does this sound like something you’d want to read?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #301: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota, #1)
Author: Ada Palmer
Published: 2016
Length: 433 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labeling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competition is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destablize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…

How and when I got it:

I picked up the Kindle edition about three years ago.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve been keeping my eye on this series ever since I first stumbled across it. Now complete, with four books in total, I have fewer excuses for not starting!

The series overview, from the publisher’s website:

Just this week, I shared my series reading goals for 2022, and I didn’t think to include this one — but I do still intend to get to these books. I’m intriguing by the sound of the world and the political structures, and want to know more about the conspiracy and the special child.

What do you think? Would you read this book (and/or the series)?

Please share your thoughts!


__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments or link back from your own post, so I can add you to the participant list.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Reading goals: Series to read in 2022

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2022 brings joy and health for all of us!

As is my annual tradition, rather than setting a bunch of reading goals that I probably won’t actually try to achieve, I prefer to limit my bookish goals to series reading. There are so many series out there that I want to get to! My priorities change from year to year, but as of now, I have a pretty good idea of the series I want to tackle in 2022.

Most of the series I’m including here are completed, rather than ongoing series. I end up enjoying series most when I can read them either straight through or within a relatively short span of time, so everything stays fresh in my mind and I can feel like what I’m reading really connects.

I absolutely recognize that I may end up changing my mind on some or all of these, but as of now…

My priority series to read in 2022 will be:

The Kingston Cycle trilogy by C. L. Polk – I own copies of all three books, and have been wanting to start for a while now.

Children of Time and Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky: I’ve heard such great things, and what’s not to love about a duology?

The Expanse by James S. A. Corey: This has been on my list for a couple of years in a row, but I seem to manage to read only one book per year. So far, I’ve read books 1 – 5. With the TV series ending this month, I want to move forward and get through most (or all) of the remaining books in the series. There are 9 in all, and next up for me will be #6, Babylon’s Ashes.

Gideon & Harrow by Tamsyn Muir – This isn’t a completed series (#3 will be out in the fall), but I’m disappointed in myself for not reading these yet!

Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers – Another series that I should have read by now!

Patternist series by Octavia Butler: I’ve been wanting to read more Octavia Butler, and this series has been on my shelf for a few years.

The Lady Janies series by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows: These look like so much fun!

Finally, I do want to go back to The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I’ve read a few, but the last two were audiobooks that just didn’t stick with me (I couldn’t keep my attention from wandering), so basically, I’d need to re-read two of these before getting to the rest:

Are you planning to start any new series this year? If you’ve read any of the series on my list for 2022, please let me know what you thought and if you have any recommendations!

Book Review: Nemesis Games (The Expanse, #5) by James S. A. Corey

Title: Nemesis Games (The Expanse, #5)
Author: James S. A. Corey
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: May 10, 2016
Length: 532 pages
Genre: Science fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A thousand worlds have opened, and the greatest land rush in human history has begun. As wave after wave of colonists leave, the power structures of the old solar system begin to buckle.

Ships are disappearing without a trace. Private armies are being secretly formed. The sole remaining protomolecule sample is stolen. Terrorist attacks previously considered impossible bring the inner planets to their knees. The sins of the past are returning to exact a terrible price.

And as a new human order is struggling to be born in blood and fire, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante must struggle to survive and get back to the only home they have left.

Let me just say up front that this is going to be a short review — not because I didn’t love the book, but because I tore through it so quickly that I didn’t pause to take notes or mark amazing passages or terrific dialogue. Yes, I loved the book, and it definitely merits 5 stars!

The fifth book in the fabulous Expanse series, Nemesis Games has a lot going on. The key things to know are (1) the crew of the Rocinante spend most of the book apart, each going off on their own private journeys while their ship is undergoing major repairs, and (2) a massive terrorist attack by a dangerous Belter faction changes the power dynamics of the solar system, perhaps permanently.

Each of our four main characters gets a chance to shine, although Naomi’s saga is clearly the most dramatic and emotionally powerful. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, so I’ll be vague, but the attack by the Free Navy (the aggressive Belter faction) is shocking in its scope and impact.

The plotline of Nemesis Games is the basis of the excellent fifth season of The Expanse (now streaming on Amazon Prime), with a few changes here and there. While I’m usually a stickler for reading books before watching movie or TV adaptations, in this case, I’m glad I had the visuals of this season to help me while reading the book. So much of the technology, military aspects, etc are really complex, and having seen the depictions on TV really made the book passages feel more alive to me.

As I said, I’m keeping this review short, so I’ll just wrap up by saying that Nemesis Games and the entire series are highly recommended. The books are long, but they speed by. So far, there are 8 books in the series, with the 9th and final book set to be published sometime this year. I don’t think I’ll be able to get through all of the available books right away, but I do want to keep going! The books are exciting, pulse-pounding reading, and I just have to know what happens next!

Reading goals: Series to read in 2021

Welcome, 2021! I’m so glad you’re here at last!

I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions, and I generally don’t set a lot of reading goals. My reading north star is to read whatever, whenever, according to my whims and moods (although I do try to keep up with my ARCs, more or less according to publication dates).

I do like to plan ahead at the start of a year when it comes to my series reading. A new year is a fresh start when is comes to starting a series that I’ve been wanting to get to. For me, series are most enjoyable when I can read all (or at least, a bunch) of the books in a row, or at least within a few months of each other.

Of course, all of this is subject to change as the year progresses. Still…

In 2021, my priority series to read will be:

The Modern Faerie Tales trilogy by Holly Black – I read (and adored) Holly Black’s Folk of the Air series in 2020, and now I want to read everything else she’s written! I’ll start with these:

The Plantagenet and Tudor novels by Philippa Gregory – of the 15 books in this historical fiction series, I’ve read 5 at random times over the last several years. Nine more to go! (I’m inspired, having watched the Starz TV series inspired by several of these books.)

The Expanse by James S. A. Corey: This was on my list last year too! I seem to manage to read only one book per year. I’ve read books 1 – 4 already, and want to keep going! Hopefully, I’ll read more than one in 2021. Next up for me is:

Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery – I’ve been wanting to read this trilogy since reading the Anne of the Green Gables books a couple of years ago.

Inspector Gamache books by Louise Penny – I want to at least start this series this year. There are 16 books published so far! Seems daunting, but I want to give them a try.

Also for 2021, I want to either start, get back to, or revisit some of these others:

  • The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowksi – I’ve read 3 books, 5 more to go
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray – I’ve read the first book, but at this point I’d need to re-read it before continuing (four books in all)
  • Wolfsong series by TJ Klune – I really want to read more by TJ Klune in 2021, and I’ve heard this series is great
  • Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom – I’ve been meaning to start this series for a long time, so maybe this will be the year
  • The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny – this is a BIG maybe for me. I read books 1 – 5 of this series ages and ages ago, but I’ve always meant to go back and read books 6 – 10… which means I’d need to start over from the beginning. I remember loving it at the time — so yeah, maybe.

Are you planning to start any new series this year? If you’ve read any of the series on my “priority” list, let me know what you thought!

A look back: Series reading in 2020

Remember January? Those good old days when we left our houses? Didn’t think twice about breathing the same air as other people? Sigh…

Back in January, oh so long ago, I set myself some reading goals related to reading book series. And now that 2020 is about to expire (and good riddance!), I thought it was time to check in and see whether I met any of my series reading goals.

Here are the books I set as my priorities for 2020:

The Glamourist Histories by Mary Robinette Kowal – a five-book series:Status: DONE! I listened to the audiobooks, one right after another, and loved the individual books as well as the over-arching storylines. All-around excellent world-building and storytelling. I just wish there were more set in this world!

The Interdependency Series by John Scalzi – a science fiction trilogy:

Status: DONE! Such a fun sci-fi adventure. I’d been hesitant about reading these books, expecting them to be too much on the “hard” side of science fiction — but thanks to the author’s never-fail humor and snark, the books flew by and were totally entertaining.

The Expanse by James S. A. Corey: More science fiction! Prior to 2020, I’d read books 1 – 3, and my goal was to keep going.

Status: A little bit of progress… I read book #4, but didn’t go any further. Yet. I do intend to keep going with the series, and since the final book is due out in 2021, I suppose I’d better get moving!

Poldark by Winston Graham – 12 books in all, and as of the end of 2019, I’d read seven.

Status: Nope. I didn’t read any additional books in this series, and honestly, I doubt that I will. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read, but now that the TV adaptation has ended, I don’t feel all that invested in continuing (especially since the books from this point out supposedly focus on the next generation of characters).

Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black – a fantasy trilogy:

Status: YES, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES! Not only did I read the three books early in 2020, all right in a row, I ended up listening to all the audiobooks toward the end of the year. And I loved them so, so much! Such a great story, with fantastic characters.

Those are all the series that I set as my goals at the beginning of the year. I also ended up reading one additional trilogy, not on my original list:

The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club by Theodora Goss: A fabulous trilogy starring the cast-off daughters of famous fictional men — the daughters of Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde), Victor Frankenstein, and more. The books are clever and funny, and feature strong, amazing women having great adventures. Totally delightful.

So, farewell to 2020! And onward to 2021!

Did you read any series in 2020? Any particular favorites?

Check back in January, when I’ll set a new batch of series reading goals for the new year.