Jenny's Library

Posts Tagged ‘politics

cover image for Court of FivesCourt of Fives by Kate Elliot

Jes and her three sisters couldn’t be more different, and they fight and squabble as siblings do. Yet when it comes down to it, they’ve got each others backs.  Which is fortunate, as she needs their help to do what she loves best: training for the Fives, a sport that requires quick thinking, agility, stamina, and strength.  But when Jes’ father returns from war, her plans to finally compete – something he would never approve of – are thrown in disarray.  Soon the rest of her life is as well, and Jes will need to use all of the skills that make her a great athlete to keep her family safe.

full disclosure, before I get into WHY THIS BOOK IS SO AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD READ IT:acknowledgements page from Court of Fives

(yeah, I really just put that there bc: OMG)

I adore Kate Elliot’s books, and Court of Fives is no exception.  I’ve been eager to see how/what she does with YA, and now that I have I’m so very glad she did.  I love the way that Elliot handles Jes as an athlete, and her relationships with her sisters.  And I especially love that she made Jes’ social standing so complex, that it’s not as simple as her family being rich and her father having status, nor simply that Jes and her sisters are biracial in an extremely racist society.

And I really, really, really, would love to go into more detail about WHY this book is so awesome, but it’s not coming out for another half a year, and I may want to pitch a longer/actual review.  SO YOU WILL ALL JUST HAVE TO WAIT.

Sorry! I know you all hate me now. I promise I will rave about this book in much more detail this summer, closer to when it comes out.

cover image for The Agency: A Spy in the HouseThe Agency: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee

Twelve year old Mary Quinn was supposed to hang for her crime.  Instead she was given a chance to start a new life as a pupil at Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls.   Now, five years later, seventeen year old Mary Quinn knows that she should be grateful for everything she has been given – and she is – yet the idea of spending her life as a tutor at the school or as a maid in someone else’s house fills Mary with dread rather than hope.  She’s not afraid of work, but she can’t help wishing that there were other options out there for an young lady with education but no family or fortune.  Then, for the second time in her life, she’s given a once in a lifetime opportunity – this time, to be trained as a spy.  But can Mary keep not only the Agency’s secrets safe, but also the Agency from learning the truth about her own heritage?

This book has so many awesome moments. It also, unfortunately, has a bit too much boyfriend and not enough roller derby for my tastes.*  Still, it’s a lovely book that manages to be delightfully surprising in many ways.  It also does a wonderful job of handling Mary’s secret, which happens to be that [she’s biracial, passing for white. Also, that her mother sometimes earned her way as a sex worker.]   Mary’s status, situation, and relationships make this book a refreshing contrast to the more typical young adult novels set in Victorian London, which tend to be about young ladies of a certain social class, and treat the few non-white characters in them as oddities and visitors rather than Londoners.

*the phrase is from lj user buymeaclue.  I’d link, but the journal is now friendslocked. :p

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She Commands Me and I Obey by Ann Leckie

It’s a testament to the complexities of the characters and cultures and worlds that Leckie creates that I’ve been sitting here for several minutes trying to figure out how to explain this short story.  (Without giving away the plot, of course.)

It’s a story about intrigue and politics. About athletes and warriors and courage.  And it’s a story about choices and morality and ethics.

Like all good political intrigues, there’s several mysteries here as well.

It’s also the story of a young boy, named Her-Breath-Contains-The-Universe, a novice in the Blue Lily Monastery, and why he’s drawn to the only unnamed statue in a stadium of hundreds of statues of deified ballplayers.

Like the other works of Leckie’s that I’ve read (and loved) it’s also a story about change and sacrifice, and how change is always both gradual and sudden at the same time.

It’s truly excellent, and I know I’m not the only one that nominated it for a Hugo.

(Yes, I’m skipping around and there are some weeks missing.  During weeks 28, 31, 32, and 34 through 37, I didn’t manage to finish any books, so there won’t be any posts for those weeks.  Week 38 is forthcoming, and after that I will be back on track.)

cover image for Treason's ShoreTreason’s Shore by Sherwood Smith

The Venn have retreated from Iasca Leror, but it won’t be long before they return, and stronger than ever.  Inda’s homeland has no hope of defeating the Venn’s mighty navy, Iasca Leror’s military strength lies with their cavalry, not ships.  So Inda, the King’s Shield, is sent to find the pirate fleet he once commanded and recruit them for the cause.  But Inda will need more than that to defeat the Venn, he’ll need to find a way to convince Iasca Leror’s neighbors that it’s in their best interest to work together.

I really wasn’t expecting Iasca Leror to fall to the Venn, so the tension instead came from wondering how Inda was going to manage this particular victory, and at what cost.  A question that Smith makes wonderfully complicated and emotional by presenting Inda with a solution that  gives Iasca Leror a fighting chance, but puts Inda himself in conflict with the king he has sworn to obey.