Book Description from Goodreads:

We’d had to be cut free of our mother’s womb. She’d never have been able to push the two-headed sport that was me and Abby out the usual way. Abby and I were fused, you see. Conjoined twins. Abby’s head, torso, and left arm protruded from my chest. But here’s the real kicker; Abby had the magic, I didn’t. Far as the Family was concerned, Abby was one of them, though cursed, as I was, with the tragic flaw of mortality.

Now adults, Makeda and Abby still share their childhood home. The surgery to separate the two girls gave Abby a permanent limp, but left Makeda with what feels like an even worse deformity: no mojo. The daughters of a celestial demigod and a human woman, Makeda and Abby were raised by their magical father, the god of growing things–a highly unusual childhood that made them extremely close. Ever since Abby’s magical talent began to develop, though, in the form of an unearthly singing voice, the sisters have become increasingly distant.

Today, Makeda has decided it’s high time to move out and make her own life among the other nonmagical, claypicken humans–after all, she’s one of them. In Cheerful Rest, a run-down warehouse space, Makeda finds exactly what she’s been looking for: an opportunity to live apart from Abby and begin building her own independent life. There’s even a resident band, led by the charismatic (and attractive) building superintendent.

But when her father goes missing, Makeda will have to discover her own talent–and reconcile with Abby–if she’s to have a hope of saving him . . .

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson is the story of Makeda, a young woman with a demi-god father and a human mother who did not inherit any of the power of her paternal family—even though her twin sister Abby did. Makeda never felt like she belonged to the Family, and as she and Abby grew older, the two grew further apart to the point where Makeda decided to get her own apartment in the beginning of this book. I really enjoyed seeing Makeda come into her own throughout the novel as she learns the truth about her family and herself that has been hidden for so long, as well as reading about her complicated relationship with Abby. It’s an absorbing stand alone contemporary fantasy, and I started collecting Nalo Hopkinson’s older titles after reading it.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the publisher.

Lord of the Changing Winds
by Rachel Neumeier
400pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 7/10
Amazon Rating: 3.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.35/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.38/5

Book Description from Goodreads:

Griffins lounged all around them, inscrutable as cats, brazen as summer. They turned their heads to look at Kes out of fierce, inhuman eyes. Their feathers, ruffled by the wind that came down the mountain, looked like they had been poured out of light; their lion haunches like they had been fashioned out of gold. A white griffin, close at hand, looked like it had been made of alabaster and white marble and then lit from within by white fire. Its eyes were the pitiless blue-white of the desert sky.

Little ever happens in the quiet villages of peaceful Feierabiand. The course of Kes’ life seems set: she’ll grow up to be an herb-woman and healer for the village of Minas Ford, never quite fitting in but always more or less accepted. And she’s content with that path — or she thinks she is. Until the day the griffins come down from the mountains, bringing with them the fiery wind of their desert and a desperate need for a healer. But what the griffins need is a healer who is not quite human . . . or a healer who can be made into something not quite human.

Lord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier is a self-contained story despite being the first book in the Griffin Mage trilogy. Unlike my favorite book I’ve read by the same author, House of Shadows, it took awhile for it to pull me in, but I ended up enjoying it. There are too few fantasy books about griffins, and these were quite interesting since they were alien as a group yet still had their own individual personalities. Both main characters were sympathetic, but I also wasn’t as invested in either as much as I would have liked. However, this introduced an intriguing world I’d like to revisit and I do plan to read the next book, Land of the Burning Sands.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the author.

Book Description from Goodreads:

In his critically acclaimed novel Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay told a vivid and powerful story inspired by China’s Tang Dynasty. Now, the international bestselling and multiple award-winning author revisits that invented setting four centuries later with an epic of prideful emperors, battling courtiers, bandits and soldiers, nomadic invasions, and a woman battling in her own way, to find a new place for women in the world – a world inspired this time by the glittering, decadent Song Dynasty.

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay is set in the same world as Under Heaven, but it’s set about 400 years later and stands alone. While it took some time to completely draw me in, I ended up loving River of Stars. It’s a long story that takes awhile to get going, and it took some time for me to get used to the writing style but I found it lovely once I did become accustomed to it. It’s a reflective book involving themes of war and power, including the power of words, and legends, particularly how they can grow as they’re retold, morphing into more extraordinary tales. While I liked that it was introspective, I did feel that sometimes this was overdone and repetitive, but this was minor overall considering how very much I enjoyed reading it. There are also compelling characters and heart-wrenching tragedies, and River of Stars is very much the type of novel that is right up my alley. I didn’t love it quite as much as Tigana, my favorite of Kay’s novels so far, but it was still fantastic.

My Rating: 9/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from a publicist.

Book Description from Goodreads:

Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you’d get Deviana Morris — a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach is the first book in the Paradox trilogy. My experience with it seems to be unusual: I really struggled to get into it and almost didn’t finish it. It had a lot of action and was fairly quickly paced, and I’ve found those types of books often don’t work for me if I’m not already invested in the characters. At that point, I wasn’t, and I ended up setting it aside after reading around 100 pages. I did decide to try reading it again later, and I nearly quit reading when I was still bored after a couple more chapters—but then, around the halfway point, the mysteries started to interest me and I ended up really enjoying the second half of Fortune’s Pawn. This is definitely not a complete story on its own, and later parts of the book and the ending were good enough to make me curious about what happens in the next book even though the first half didn’t work for me.

My Rating: 6/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher.