Some tea? Fish sauce? Oysters?

Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3)
by Ann Leckie,  Adjoa Andoh (Narrator) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I really liked this. Not sure what I did during the first read, but I definitely did not pay enough attention, because I barely remembered any of this. Great fun, I loved all the AIs and their dynamics. And Translator Zeiat was precious.

I would love to read another book in this setting, to find out how it all turns out.


Review from 2017:

Lovely. I am sad that this is the end for the Imperial Radch. But then…

“Every ending is an arbitrary one. Every ending is, from another angle, not really an ending.” 

Direct continuation of Ancillary Sword. A nice and fitting conclusion to the trilogy.

The humour and tongue-in-check of the dialogues was great and right down my alley. And Translator Zeiat made this novel, what a great character! 

Loved Breq and how human she became in the last book. And not. 

Loved the development of her relationship with Seivarden, who definitely did not have enough page time. 

Loved the action sequences, loved the conversation about what makes one a significant being.

I will miss these characters, Athoek Station, the Undergarden… I would have loved to go through the ghost gate and meet the Presger.

Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy felt like one book and I think I liked them more than Ancillary Justice. The plot and characterizations were more intricate. Although I did like the plot of Ancillary Justice a lot, too, and the early days of Seivarden and Breq. I’ll need to think on that some more.

Some fish sauce in the meantime?


“Thank all the gods,” said Sphene. “I was afraid you were going to suggest we sing that song about the thousand eggs.”

“A thousand eggs all nice and warm,” I sang. “Crack, crack, crack, a little chick is born. Peep peep peep peep! Peep peep peep peep!”

“Why, Fleet Captain,” Translator Zeiat exclaimed, “that’s a charming song! Why haven’t I heard you sing it before now?”

I took a breath. “Nine hundred ninety-nine eggs all nice and warm…”

“Crack, crack, crack,” Translator Zeiat joined me, her voice a bit breathy but otherwise quite pleasant, “a little chick is born. Peep peep peep peep! What fun! Are there more verses?”

“Nine hundred and ninety-eight of them, Translator,” I said.

“We’re not cousins anymore,” said Sphene.” 

My September 2021

Here is what I read in September:

Ancillary Sword ★★★★★ audio, Imperial Radch #2, re-read. I remembered most of this and this time around liked it better than #1. Loved Dlique and Tisarwat.
– Return to the Center of the Earth ★★★★☆ KU, sequel, re-tracing the steps of Jules Verne. Brain candy. Fun!
– Babylon’s Ashes ★★★★☆ audio, Expanse #6, re-read
– City of Bones ★★☆☆☆ ebook, dystopian fantasy by Martha Wells. Not enough sarcastic AIs. I liked parts of it a lot, but as a whole it didn‘t excite me. I pretty much skimmed through the second part, because I didn‘t care.

Poetry:
– “You’d Have Me Be White” by Alfonsina Storni, https://betterthanstarbucks.wixsite.c…, ★★★★★, feminist poetry, made me smile and nod my head…
– Scifaikuest Online, https://www.hiraethsffh.com/scifaikue…, ★★★★½, great SF haikus
– “Among the Scythians“, Deborah L. Davitt, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #49, August 1, 2021, ★★★☆☆, https://www.heroicfantasyquarterly.co…
– Horrific Punctuation, poetry, KU, DNF, my ebook was barely readable and the poetry too abstract.

Comics:
– The White Trees #1 ★★★★☆, KU, eComic, high fantasy, x-rated, ex-killer has to pick up his weapons again to save his family
– The White Trees #2 ★★★☆☆, eComic, not as good as the first issue

Return To The Center Of The Earth by Greig Beck Horrific Punctuation by John Reinhart Babylon's Ashes (The Expanse, #6) by James S.A. Corey The White Trees #1 by Chip Zdarsky The White Trees #2 by Chip Zdarsky City of Bones by Martha Wells Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2) by Ann Leckie 

Currently reading:
– Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, ebook, #ReadBIPOC2021, TBR pile, Netgalley
– Tietjen auf Tour: Warum Camping mich glücklich macht, paperback, TBR pile
– Ancillary Mercy, audio, Imperial Radch #3, re-read

Planned, but lacking in motivation:
– Persepolis Rising, audio, Expanse #7, re-read
– Tiamat’s Wrath, audio, Expanse #8, re-read
I might abandon the plan to read those two and just jump to the new book…

Movie watched:
– Dune ★★★★★ — I considered deducting a star, because it‘s only „Part One“. I was pretty frustrated about that. The beginning took forever! Is Caladan supposed to be Caledonia, aka Scotland? Never really thought about that before. My first visit to a cinema since 2019! 

Eggs are so inadequate, don’t you think? 

Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2)
by Ann LeckieAdjoa Andoh (Narrator) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I liked this a lot and, differently to my first review, I think I liked it better than the first book. Breq is more reflected and emotional. I really liked the addition of Lieutenant Tisarwat, Translator Dlique was a delight and the locations of Underworld and on the planet were well imagined and lively.

I do love the narration by Andoh, although it is a bit over the top at times.


Review from April 2017 *some spoilers* 

I liked it. It was very laid back in between the more energetic action sequences. A lot of drinking tea. I liked the plot of the first book more, I think (still debating with myself). The alternating timeline made it more vibrant and suspenseful. It was proper space opera. 

However, the relationships of the various characters in this sequel were more intricate. The dynamics of the people on the station and down on the planet were well done. The disenfranchised in the Undergarden (brilliant idea) and their revolution, the serfs on the planet, the ruling class and its notions of entitlement and righteousness… Good stuff, I will be going over it in my mind for quite a while.

“You take what you want at the end of a gun, you murder and rape and steal, and you call it bringing civilization. And what is civilization, to you, but us being properly grateful to be murdered and raped and stolen from? You said you knew justice when you heard it. Well, what is your justice but you allowed to treat us as you like, and us condemned for even attempting to defend ourselves?”

Very talkative prose, sometimes a little too much for my taste. But only a little. Seivarden’s role was sadly diminished in this, the addition of Tisarwat added a good character into the mix. Breq’s Kalrs pretending to be ancillaries was another great idea. She herself mourning for her lost connectedness with all that she was as Justice of Torren… I am not usually a friend of character driven narratives, but this was good.

Looking forward to Ancillary Mercy. Can’t wait to read, what they find on the other side…

What are you willing to do for love?

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1)
by Ann Leckie,  Adjoa Andoh (Narrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A re-read. This is not a love story, it’s a story of revenge.

“If that’s what you’re willing to do for someone you hate, what would you do for someone you love?” 

Breq is willing to do quite a lot. A lot of subtle tones that I missed the first time around and almost missed again during my second read. A many layered narrative, where you have to peel off layers to get to the heart of it all. My favourite part is still the evolving relationship between Breq and Seivarden. And the parts of the story set on Ors. Good stuff and worth the awards this book won.

“Choose my aim, take one step and then the next. It had never been anything else.” 


Review from my first read in March 2017:

The beginning was a little confusing. Might be due to it being an audiobook, it’s a fairly new medium for me. Here are my slightly spoilerish thoughts.

Breq’s voice in the audibook works well for the character. I didn’t find her too neutral or emotionless. In the beginning she almost felt childlike, exploring and getting to know her world. As the book went on, she gained more emotions and more of a personality.

I found some of the dialects of the other characters a bit weird. Some of the voices in the audiobook also sounded a bit “too much” and not natural to me. But they all grew on me eventually.

It’s interesting that Breq used a female pronoun for all other characters, until she could figure out if they were male or female. And even then she often stuck to the female version. It made for an unusual reading experience. Ultimately it made no difference, if a character was male or female. Which was perhaps the point of the whole idea.

What I did find a bit difficult with the audiobook: Telling the other characters apart. And it was slightly annoying that I couldn’t see the spelling of the various names and places.

I liked the timeline alternating from chapter to chapter. The story only really took off for me with the convergence of both plotlines. I liked the story before that, too. But the pace was a bit too leisurely. The last 30% of the book finally picked up speed.

My personal highlight was the development of the relationship between Breq and Seivarden. The conclusion of the book’s underlieing conflict in contrast to that was just ok. Smart, but nothing earth shattering. Nice ending. And I am fairly certain that I will pick up the next book.

Sorry for my fairly lame review, literary mastermind I am not. Bottom line, I liked the book. A bit slow at times. Good plot. Good world building. Interesting characters. Loved Ors, loved Seivarden and the relationship of her and Breq. The last few chapters were fun. One gripping moment full of sadness. Good stuff.

First Line Friday: Romance in Space

First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab your nearest book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.


I started reading Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell this week. I am a quarter into it now. Quick summary of what it feels like so far: m/m romance in an SF setting, marriage of convenience, potentially a murder mystery and court intrigue, hints of space opera. It‘s also one of my overdue NetGalleys.

Ancillary Justice meets Red, White & Royal Blue in Everina Maxwell’s exciting debut.

from the book blurb

Both of those are excellent books. I recommend the audioversion of Ancillary Justice. Adjoa Andoh does an excellent job. She seems to be Leckie‘s standard audiobook narrator. I also listened to her narration of The Raven Tower — or was that Provenance? — not sure which right now. And she plays a role in Bridgerton — one more reason to finally check that out.

Anyway, I am rambling, back to First Line Friday…

“Well, someone has to marry the man,“ the Emperor said.

First line of the book

As first lines go, that is a pretty good one! I also like the cover.


I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Imperial Radch

Talking about the Vorkosigan Saga by Bujold lead me to Ann Leckie and her Imperial Radch trilogy. Connections sometimes are weird. Anyway, turns out I never posted the reviews for the full trilogy over here. So, onwards to my backlist…

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie, Adjoa Andoh (Narrator), read and reviewed in March 2017:

The beginning was a little confusing. Might be due to it being an audiobook, it’s a fairly new medium for me. Here are my slightly spoilerish thoughts.

Breq’s voice in the audibook works well for the character. I didn’t find her too neutral or emotionless. In the beginning she almost felt childlike, exploring and getting to know her world. As the book went on, she gained more emotions and more of a personality.

I found some of the dialects of the other characters a bit weird. Some of the voices in the audiobook also sounded a bit “too much” and not natural to me. But they all grew on me eventually.

It’s interesting that Breq used a female pronoun for all other characters, until she could figure out if they were male or female. And even then she often stuck to the female version. It made for an unusual reading experience. Ultimately it made no difference, if a character was male or female. Which was perhaps the point of the whole idea.

What I did find a bit difficult with the audiobook: Telling the other characters apart. And it was slightly annoying that I couldn’t see the spelling of the various names and places.

I liked the timeline alternating from chapter to chapter. The story only really took off for me with the convergence of both plotlines. I liked the story before that, too. But the pace was a bit too leisurely. The last 30% of the book finally picked up speed.

My personal highlight was the development of the relationship between Breq and Seivarden. The conclusion of the book’s underlieing conflict in contrast to that was just ok. Smart, but nothing earth shattering. Nice ending. And I am fairly certain that I will pick up the next book.

Sorry for my fairly lame review, literary mastermind I am not. Bottom line, I liked the book. A bit slow at times. Good plot. Good world building. Interesting characters. Loved Ors, loved Seivarden and the relationship of her and Breq. The last few chapters were fun. One gripping moment full of sadness. Good stuff.


Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2) by Ann LeckieAdjoa Andoh (Narrator), read and reviewed in April 2017:

*some spoilers* 

I liked it. It was very laid back in between the more energetic action sequences. A lot of drinking tea. I liked the plot of the first book more, I think (still debating with myself). The alternating timeline made it more vibrant and suspenseful. It was proper space opera. 

However, the relationships of the various characters in this sequel were more intricate. The dynamics of the people on the station and down on the planet were well done. The disenfranchised in the Undergarden (brilliant idea) and their revolution, the serfs on the planet, the ruling class and its notions of entitlement and righteousness… Good stuff, I will be going over it in my mind for quite a while.

You take what you want at the end of a gun, you murder and rape and steal, and you call it bringing civilization. And what is civilization, to you, but us being properly grateful to be murdered and raped and stolen from? You said you knew justice when you heard it. Well, what is your justice but you allowed to treat us as you like, and us condemned for even attempting to defend ourselves?

Very talkative prose, sometimes a little too much for my taste. But only a little. Seivarden’s role was sadly diminished in this, the addition of Tisarwat added a good character into the mix. Breq’s Kalrs pretending to be ancillaries was another great idea. She herself mourning for her lost connectedness with all that she was as Justice of Torren… I am not usually a friend of character driven narratives, but this was good.

Looking forward to Ancillary Mercy. Can’t wait to read, what they find on the other side…


Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch #3) by Ann LeckieAdjoa Andoh (Narrator), read and reviewed in May 2017:

Lovely. I am sad that this is the end for the Imperial Radch. But then…

Every ending is an arbitrary one. Every ending is, from another angle, not really an ending.

Direct continuation of Ancillary Sword. A nice and fitting conclusion to the trilogy.

The humour and tongue-in-check of the dialogues was great and right down my alley. And Translator Zeiat made this novel, what a great character! 

Loved Breq and how human she became in the last book. And not. 

Loved the development of her relationship with Seivarden, who definitely did not have enough page time. 

Loved the action sequences, loved the conversation about what makes one a significant being.

I will miss these characters, Athoek Station, the Undergarden… I would have loved to go through the ghost gate and meet the Presger.

Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy felt like one book and I think I liked them more than Ancillary Justice. The plot and characterizations were more intricate. Although I did like the plot of Ancillary Justice a lot, too, and the early days of Seivarden and Breq. I’ll need to think on that some more.

Some fish sauce in the meantime?


The audiobook narration of these three by Adjoa Andoh was excellent!

After reading this trilogy, I read a ton of short stories by Leckie and eventually her novels Raven Tower and Provenance. One is fantasy and the other one is set in the world of Imperial Radch, but in another corner of the galaxy and with other characters and an entirely different feel. Both nominated for a ton of awards. So, yes, I am waiting for more. This woman can write. Raven Tower was published in early 2019, so maybe we get lucky next year…

The Hugos and The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie‘s blog post from August 2020

Gods are people, too

The Raven TowerThe Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unusual second-person narrative. A little odd at first, but it grew on me. Strange that a main character does not have an inner voice.

The book alternates between two stories. There is the present day plot and a back story. I don‘t want to give too much away, I think it is more fun not too know going in. For a long while I suspected that the main narrator was leading us astray. I wasn‘t quite sure, who the narrator really is. Again, I don‘t want to give too much away…

“What is it that makes language a far more powerful—and risky—tool for gods than it is for even humans? What is it that makes gods gods? What am I?“

And what a fascinating narrator it is. Slow, ponderous, but there is tension there under the surface.

Leckie likes to screw with our perceptions and common expectations. I like that. She talks about what is the right thing to do and about perspective…

If I ponder it long enough—as, indeed, I have had plenty of opportunity to do—I can see several potential lessons or morals one might draw from such a tale, and no doubt many of them would be salutary, or at least salutary for someone.

Non-normative gender roles and life choices play into the narrative. Not because the story revolves around them. It does not. They just are. Someone else called it Leckie‘s shtick. She does it well.

I liked this book and I would happily have read another few hundred pages of it. Leckie is pretty much an insta-buy for me now. I don‘t claim to fully understand what she writes, but the journey is fun and fascinating. ★★★★½

Audio: ★★★★★
Halfway through the book I jumped from the ebook to audio, which was finally available in my country shortly after the original publishing date, but too late for my impatient self. Adjoa Andoh narrated The Imperial Radch trilogy and narrates here again. Excellent! Makes me want to listen to more books read by Andoh.

The Ones Who Stay and Fight, ~ 13 pages, ★★★
Additional short story at the end of the ebook. Not quite sure what to make of it.

(Testing a link to a pretty German website for book lovers)

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What goes around comes around

The Snake's WifeThe Snake’s Wife by Ann Leckie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gods are meddling, again. Neither the gods or the people seem to be the better for it. There is a lot of suffering on all sides. Our main characters has to deal with his own share of suffering and horrific events. Leckie takes him into an interesting and surprising direction.

Great writing, depressing story though. Always a slight shimmer of hope in the distance, but ultimately everybody is pretty much doomed.

Another review mentions „What goes around comes around“, which is a great summary for this story! Very good, could not put it down. And as is often the case with really excellent short stories, I would have liked to have this as a novel, to be able to enjoy it for longer.

The Nalendar goes into a similar direction, but has a much lighter and playful tone. Plus it ends on a positive note.

Can be found here:
https://annleckie.com/snakeswife.htm

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Persistent gods

Uncanny Magazine Issue 2: January/February 2015Uncanny Magazine Issue 2: January/February 2015 by Lynne M. Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

„Nalendar“ by Ann Leckie

“Umri searched her memory for advise on being rid of a persistent god.“

Those pesky gods, not keeping their promises and dragging people into their business. Umri has enough problems (one, specifically) on her own…

What a fun read! If I wasn‘t a big fan of Ann Leckie already, this might have done it.

Can be found here at Uncanny Magazine:
https://uncannymagazine.com/article/n…

And the interview going with it:
http://uncannymagazine.com/article/in…

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My year in books

2017 on Goodreads2017 on Goodreads by Various

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My year in books according to goodreads is here.

I successfully moved back into SF this year, thanks to SpecFic Buddy Reads. You guys were a lot of fun to be with this year! I found a bunch of really nice new friends and great books. Also some not so great books, but who is counting…

My longest book this year was A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) by George R.R. Martin. It was ok, but pretty tedious in parts. I was glad to be done with it. I came to realize that I am not into epic fantasy all that much anymore. Too long, takes too much time to get to the point. I actually prefer the TV series to the books now. Sacrilege, I know. I am pretty sure though that I will get the next book, whenever that will be.

Brian Sanderson still languishes on my shelf unfinished. One year and I haven’t touched it once. I am reluctant to abandon it, maybe in 2018…

I (re-)discovered Audible this year and this time it works. I listen to about one novel per month and some of my favourite “reads” of the year were audiobooks:

The first four books of The Expanse series, starting with Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse, #1) by James S.A. Corey, were solid 4- and 5-star additions.

I also found and came to love Ann Leckie with her Imperial Radch series, starting with Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1) by Ann Leckie.


The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere #1) by Meg Elison
Neverwhere BBC Dramatisation by Neil Gaiman Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky The Martian by Andy Weir were other audiobooks that I enjoyed.

I reduced my UF reading a lot, nonetheless I had some noteable 5-star additions this year, mostly continuations of ongoing series:

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9) by Patricia Briggs White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2) by Ilona Andrews Silence Fallen (Mercy Thompson, #10) by Patricia Briggs Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3) by Ilona Andrews

There was also some fantasy/historical romance The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1) by K.J. Charles and fun SciFi novellas All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1) by Martha Wells — looking forward to the sequel in 2018! — and great comics The Black Incal by Alexandro Jodorowsky.

Other fun books worth mentioning:
Harmony Black (Harmony Black, #1) by Craig Schaefer
Substrate Phantoms by Jessica Reisman Thief of Songs (Twin Kingdoms Romances Book 1) by M.C.A. Hogarth Provenance by Ann Leckie Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, #7) by Lois McMaster Bujold River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1) by Sarah Gailey

Some of my biggest disappointments in 2017:
Binary/System by Eric Brown
Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin Insomnia by Stephen King A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1) by Cherie Priest

So, pretty wild mix this year. Let’s see where goodreads and my reading buddies lead me next. Maybe read fewer buddy reads and catch up with some of my other reading. Continue my series buddy read of the Vorkosigan series. I would quite like to branch out a little further next year. And finally catch up with my Netgalley pile. And that mountainous TBR pile didn’t really go down all that much either. *must buy fewer books*

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