Grade: 4 stars
Retelling of the fairy tale "The Goose Girl". The goose girl is stuck in a tower for her own safety, courted by two men she highly dislikes. She plans a daring escape, and that's when her adventures start. A light read, but I loved it. It was pretty much the perfect comfort read for this particular time. The geese were hilarious, the goose girl was bad-tempered and awesome, and the romance was unusual.
"Shards of Honour" by Lois McMaster Bujold
Grade: 4 1/2 stars
The first book in the Vorkosigan saga. Cordelia is the captain of a scientific expedition, and she gets captured by the captain of a military ship from another planet. She has to survive for 5 days on an alien planet with him, and then there's politics and battles and more survival and stuff. Faaabulous book (my description SO does not do it justice), which I'm guessing is the start to an amazing and unforgettable series. Where has this been my whole life? One of my favourites parts of this book is a little difficult to describe in so few words, but suffice it to say: it's titled perfectly. I loved the way the theme of honour was dealt with. This book and then next (Barrayar, discussed a bit below) are contained in an omnibus called Cordelia's Honour; this is very aptly named, for truthfully, Cordelia "pour[s] out honour all around [her], like a fountain". Also--Bothari. He is...quite something. There's not enough room to describe it all here, but his story was one of my favourite parts of the book.
"Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities" by Mike Jung
Grade: 2 stars
A couple of fanboys of the superhero Captain Stupendous have to help him out when all of a sudden he's not acting as stupendous as usual. This books subverts some common tropes (girl power, non-white characters, and more), which I always like, however it didn't really manage to keep my interest very well. Maybe my time of loving Middle Grade fiction more than most other kinds is slowly coming to an end, because it seems that the complaint "this book is too young for me" has come up a lot recently. (There are of course important exceptions, like Ordinary Magic, books by Frances Hardinge, and by Stephanie Burgis, and more.) Or maybe the book is simply a bit too simplistic. Not sure.
"Barrayar" by Louis McMaster Bujold
Grade: 3 1/2 stars
Begins right after Shards of Honour, so I don't want to discuss it too much because of spoilers. But there's a lot of Cordelia acclimatizing to a different culture, having lots of trouble with the horrific Barrayarian politics, and trying to save her unborn son. I liked it less than Shards of Honour, but it was still really good. My main issue might have been that it seemed to have less of a main theme and be less self-contained than Shards of Honour, but then I've read other reviews which have thought pretty much the opposite. So I don't know. What matters is that it has confirmed in my mind that this series is definitely worth reading. I am now going to go out and read as many Vorkosigan books as I can get my hands on.