The Women’s War by Jenna Glass – Review

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About The Women’s War by Jenna Glass

In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core.

When a nobleman’s first duty is to produce a male heir, women are treated like possessions and bargaining chips. But as the aftereffects of a world-altering spell ripple out physically and culturally, women at last have a bargaining chip of their own. And two women in particular find themselves at the crossroads of change.

Alys is the widowed mother of two teenage children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully proscribed, but now she discovers a fierce talent not only for politics but also for magic—once deemed solely the domain of men. Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, young Ellin finds herself unexpectedly on the throne after the sudden death of her grandfather the king and everyone else who stood ahead of her in the line of succession. Conventional wisdom holds that she will marry quickly, then quietly surrender the throne to her new husband…. Only, Ellin has other ideas.

The tensions building in the two kingdoms grow abruptly worse when a caravan of exiled women and their escort of disgraced soldiers stumbles upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic—which only women can wield—threatens to tear down what is left of the patriarchy. And the men who currently hold power will do anything to fight back.

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Review of The Women’s War

The Women’s War is one hell of a story. Based on a society where women are considered second-class citizens, if they are lucky, this is the story of revolution led by two extraordinary women.

Alysoon Rai-Brynna is a widowed mother of two and daughter of a king. When her father divorced her mother in favor of a more politically advantageous marriage, Alys and her brother were declared illegitimate. And her mother became an Unwanted, sentenced to life at the Abbey.

Princess Ellinsoltah of Rhozinolm will become queen when the two most likely male candidates to the throne would most like cause a war. The plan: after her year of mourning, Ellin will take a husband who will then become king. Or so her council thinks.

These two women will become the pivotal characters who react and overcome so many obstacles thrown at them in the aftermath of the world-altering spell.

The story is complex and so many characters lives are intertwined it is impossible to represent all of that here in a review.  So I will pick and choose a few characters…

Crown Prince Delnamel (half-brother to Alys and Tynthanal) is the villain to boo at every time he turns up. Occasionally, he seems to have a teeny tiny bit of heart, but don’t let that fool you. There is one horrible scene where Delnamel arrests three senior abigails and then allows his men to rape the women of the Abbey. My heart ached at the scene, but it a critical event that changes the raped women in such a way that those men will have cause to regret.

Tynthanal, brother of Alys and lieutenant commander at the Citadel, escorts the women of the Abbey to the wasteland to their new home. It is because of him that the women discover the new Well of magical elements. Thus Women’s Well was founded. Tynthanal is one of the few male feminists in the book.

Semsulin, is the lord chancellor and head of the royal council of Rhozinolm. He is the man who talked Ellin into taking the crown. His motives are not entirely clear, though as the book goes on, he seems to support Ellin more and more. I think he only wants what is best for the kingdom and that is a difficult thing to determine.

In a society where only men are allowed to use magic, it will come as quite a shock when those men learn that women are not only able to use magic in many ways, but they are also quite good at. If they don’t make room for women as equals, they will loose. Take as much of that as you wish as a commentary on any aspect of women’s history in our own world.

The cover by Elizabeth A.D. Eno, is beautiful and inciteful and truly represents the story. Ms. Eno must have read the book before she crafted her cover.

The Women’s War is 560 pages long according to the published page counts. You would think 560 would be enough to tell a story. It isn’t. Be prepared for a huge cliffhanger. The only characters whose stories are resolved are the ones that died. The description on NetGalley gave no indication that this was the first book of a series. The Women’s War gets 4 stars from me, losing one star due to the gigantic cliffhanger. (I may have thrown a fit when I finished the book.  I don’t remember.  It is all kind of fuzzy.) But if I was the type of reader who didn’t mind cliffhangers, I would give it all 5 stars.

Heartbreaking, hopeful, magical and emotional. The Women’s War truly is an amazing story.

Here is a quote from the book. It was said by Alys’s mother, right before the world upended:

Something is going to happen tonight. Something … momentous. Something that will change the world in ways I can’t entirely foresee.

Through Netgalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Across the Stars (Cyborg Genesis #1) by Lauren Smith and Noah Chinn – Review

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About Across the Stars by Lauren Smith and Noah Chinn

“We wait, we hide, and watch Earth burn across the stars…”
– From the lost pages of the ARK Diary

She’s one of the last free humans. On the run… And running out of time.

Laina Roberts has been on the run for ten years, a freeborn human hiding from the cyborgs of the Silver Legion who now controls what’s left of humanity. Moving secretly from planet to planet and space station to space station makes for a damn lonely life—and don’t even get her started on how long it’s been since she last had sex. Sometimes she thinks it might be worth turning herself in to the cyborgs just to end the loneliness. That is, until she’s caught!

Captured by a hot-as-hell Legion officer, the cyborg Ronan makes her think being probed by him might not be so bad. But becoming a cyborg’s slave—sex or otherwise—isn’t high on her to-do list. She doesn’t trust him and doesn’t understand his constant questions about Earth—especially those about her long-dead relatives. Ronan can just kiss her ass—oh yes, please—because she is not going to let her desires or his incredibly perfect body weaken her resolve. She now has a new mission, to convince the cyborgs and the rest of the galaxy that all Terrans, humans and synthetic humans like cyborgs, have the right to be free.

If only he didn’t make her feel like melting into his arms and never leaving. Being captured by a cyborg might not be so bad after all…

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Review of Across the Stars

Loved it! Across the Stars is a great scifi story that takes place in a future where Earth has been practically destroyed and the majority survivors are cyborgs. Oh, there are humans out there, but the political environment that existed when the Earth survivors joined the rest of the galaxy made humans personae non gratae and, in effect, the slaves of the cyborgs. They are hunted all over the galaxy.

In fact, Terrans in general (which are mostly comprised of cyborgs and synths) are second class species, not considered sapient because they are not able to naturally procreate. However, they are admired for the mercenary and/or peacekeeping services they provide to many of the other races. This galaxy, in which Earthlings are no big deal, is going to be a fun place to set this series.

As the creators of the cyborgs, humans are critical to the survival of all Terrans, even if not everyone realizes that. There is going to be a bit of a public relations issue when they discover that Laina is the most critical part of the survival puzzle. When the cyborgs figure this out, Laina goes from being a prisoner/slave to precious cargo. And the Cyborgs are not the only ones that want her.  Just to make things more interesting…

Despite being constantly hunted Laina, does give the cyborgs the benefit of the doubt. However, some cyborgs hold grudges, even though the events that caused the destruction of their beloved Earth (that they blame on humans) happened centuries ago. I think all humans should hate cyborgs just as much, but that would make Laina less of a heroine.

The romance between Laina and Ronan is a little bit of instant attraction and a little getting to know each other’s differences.  The romance intertwines nicely with the rest of the story and just as much as I want to see Laina get justice, I also want to see Laina and Ronan get together.

This is a nice move into SciFi for Ms. Smith. Along with Mr. Chinn, the authors have created strong scifi concepts and an interesting vision of the future. My only complaint was that the space battle scene was sketchy. There was an awkward segue from just after the beginning of the battle to the end when the good guys won. If this series is to continue, the authors may need to work on their space battle scenes, as there could very well be more in the future of this series.

I would not normally look too closely at a book with naked man chest. But Lauren Smith’s name was also on the cover, and she can tell a story. Her books (the ones I’ve read) are mostly romance with a strong secondary non-romance plot to support the romance. I usually like it the other way around. But I admire Ms. Smith’s ability to grab my attention. And this is SciFi. So I had to read it. Good idea!

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The Mortal Word (The Invisible Library #5) by Genevieve Cogman – Review

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About The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

Peace talks are always tricky, especially when a key diplomat gets stabbed. This rudely interrupts a top-secret summit between the warring dragons and Fae. As a neutral party, Librarian-spy Irene is summoned to investigate. She must head to a version of 1890s Paris, with her assistant Kai and her detective friend Vale, where these talks are fracturing. Here, she must get to the bottom of the attack – before either the peace negotiations or the city go up in flames.

Suspicions fly thick and fast and Irene soon finds herself in the seedy depths of the Parisian underworld. She’s on the trail of a notoriously warlike Fae, the Blood Countess. However, the evidence against the Countess is circumstantial. Could the killer be a member of the Library itself?

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Review of The Mortal Word

In Chapter One of The Mortal Word, Irene steals one token book, which serves only to illustrate Irene’s magical and physical abilities, not so much to glorify her librarianship. Librarian is Irene’s title. But her job, well…. Spy, yes (and she admits it), detective, most definitely (even though she pretends only to assist other detectives), task master – well just ask her fellow investigators.

The Mortal Word takes place in the setting of a peace negotiation between the dragons, the ultimate creatures of order and the fae, who introduce chaos into every possible situation. Why would two such dissimilar races want peace? That question will be asked many times in The Mortal Word.

Soon after the peace ‘conference’ starts, one of the primary dragon negotiators is murdered. Irene’s friend, detective Vale, is asked to investigate. Irene’s job: manage the detective along with the dragon and fae representatives to the investigations. Plus, her close friend and former apprentice Kai (dragon) shows up to assist in a very unofficial way. I love how Irene has taken charge more and more throughout the series. She has become quite the formidable taskmaster.

But while Irene is able to delegate, there are some things she still wants to do herself. Irene’s interest in Sherlockian detective stories means she wants to follow up on some clues herself. I have read enough of Irene to know that anytime this happens, trouble will ensue. And anytime this happens, Irene will use her brains, and maybe a bit of magic, to get out of trouble. While all her friends and associates are quite capable, Irene is the superhero of this series.

The Mortal Word can be read as a standalone and will appeal to anyone who appreciates a great mystery solved by a brainy detective, with a mix of myth and magic. Though if you think that sounds pretty good, why not read the entire series!?

Thanks to the publisher (Berkley, Penquin, Random House, whoever – they are all on the letterhead) who held a giveaway and sent me the prize of an ARC of the The Mortal Word. I had read books 1-3 and had decided not to continue the series, not because I did not like the series, rather I had other books I wanted to read more. However, having received a free book, I had to read it! So glad I did!

 

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