Categories
Science Fiction Thrillers

Novella Review: Dust & Lightning by Rebecca Crunden

Thank you so much to Rebecca Crunden for sending an epub copy of her sci-fi novella in exchange for an honest review!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Dust & Lightning
  • Series: standalone
  • Author: Rebecca Crunden
  • Length: 124 pages
  • Publisher & Release: Self – February 2020
  • Rate & Recommend: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ yes for fans of scifi and action!

Here is the description from Amazon:

In the near future, humans have gone beyond simple space travel. By the year 4054, multiple solar systems are inhabited, and taking a spaceship is as commonplace as taking an aeroplane.

Unfortunately, not everything about the future is so advanced. The central planets, led by Earth, have risen high at the expense of cheap labour on distant worlds. Dissent is widespread and arrests are common. Sometimes prisoners are released; sometimes they disappear without a trace, sent to labour camps in other solar systems.

When Ames Emerys receives a letter telling him that his brother Callum has died en route to the remote planet of Kilnin, he takes the first ship he can off Earth, desperate for answers. But the secrets Ames uncovers prove far more dangerous than he could have imagined.

And trouble isnโ€™t far behind.

I read this in one session because the action just never stopped and it was impossible to put down. It was believable action too, involving a lot of narrow escapes and cool powers, and I felt like it was well paced.

It’s only 117 pages but there is enough description to get a visual image of the important places and objects, as well as a good sense of setting.

In the brief span of knowing these characters I definitely felt like I knew Ames pretty well, and could at least appreciate Violet for her sense of daring and Callum for his strength. Ames is out to rescue his brother and discovers a whole can of worms (ha ha) involving the corruption of the Democratic Planetary Alliance.

I hope there is a part 2 to this because I really want to know the outcome of the rebellion!


Author and purchase links:

Goodreads link:ย https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51004978-dust-lightning
Amazon link:ย https://www.amazon.com/Dust-Lightning-Rebecca-Crunden-ebook/dp/B084HKS69M/
Website:ย https://rebeccacrunden.com
Categories
Science Fiction

ARC Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Thank you so much to Tor Books via NetGalley for the e ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
  • Series: currently a standalone in his new ‘Fractalverse’
  • Author: Christopher Paolini
  • Publisher & Release: Tor Books – 9/15/20
  • Length: 880 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸโœจ For fans, yes

Here is the description from GoodReads:

Kira Navรกrez dreamed of life on new worlds. Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins toย move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

My first thoughts upon putting the book down were “can I come up now? Is it over?” Not necessarily in a bad way but this is an extremely long book to read on a Kindle. It’s a reviewers biggest nightmare to end up with a super long book that eats into the reading productivity of the month. Literally I wanted to finish this weeks ago before pub date but it wasn’t a quick read, it was impossible to skim for fear of missing anything, and then I had to collect my thoughts.

I think if people have time to get lost in this massive world that spans everything from xenobiology to history of lost alien races, from intergalactic war to peace, multiple settings and two full crews, and immense amounts of world building along the way… It’s a pretty solid space epic.

I might have enjoyed the book more spread out and developed as a trilogy, bringing the different crews and adventures and timelines into more separate stories. As it was, I felt yanked from one setting to another just as I was getting comfortable with the place and people involved in the prior one. It takes place over…. Somewhere between 2-4 years I think.

The world building and science involved is something amazing though, the years put into writing this are quite clear. I think I read 8 years he spent drafting and writing and re-writing. Sometimes the details and world building dragged the plot to a standstill, which explains the length in both time count and reading time for me.

The Wallfish crew were my favorite characters. Falconi and Trig and Sparrow and the ship’s pets were up my alley of dark humour at times. That is a crew that I would happily spend endless hours with. I never really connected with Kira herself, she never felt real and although I liked her well enough, I felt kind of blah about what happened to her.

I think Gregorovich, the ship mind, is widely a fan favorite and I 100% agree.

The crew is gathering in the mess hall, if you wish to partake, O Spiky Meatbag. โ€“ Gregorovich

Or when he calls the alien Be-tentacled friend, Queen of Thorns, or Sparrow Birdname! But then also Gregorovich:

I screamed, though I have no mouth to scream. I wept, though I have no eyes for tears. I crawled through space and time, a worm inching through a labyrinth built by the dreams of a mad god. This I learned, meatbag, this and nothing more: when air, food, and shelter are assured, only two things matter. Work and companionship. To be alone and without purpose is to be the living dead.โ€

Definitely some pretty well multifaceted characters, I think that crew together is one of the more shippable ones in adult literature that I’ve read.

I was totally ok with that ending too, bittersweet and I get along really well.

All in all: not bad but I think the book got lost in itself at times for being a standalone. At this point it is the starting point of a new universe, but apparently to be a standalone within that world so all that worldbuilding may make more sense later on.

Also: I think PigFinger should have been included in the dictionary at the end ๐Ÿคฃ

Have you read it? Want to discuss it? Leave a comment!

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

ARC Review: The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Guys it’s finally here and I am so glad to be able to share it finally!!ย  Thank you so much to Wednesday Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

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Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Silvered Serpents
  • Series: The Guilded Wolves #2
  • Author: Roshani Chokshi
  • Puisher & Release: Wednesday Books, September 22, 2020
  • Rate & Recommend: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ oh yes for fans of YA fantasy, magic, and heists

Here is the synopsis:

Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever in The Silvered Serpents.

Sรฉverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost โ€” one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Sรฉverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

The most important thing to know is that The Silvered Serpents is 100% inarguably better than the Gilded Wolves. I honestly didn’t love that book as it was overdone with prose and long scientific ramblings. Chokshi speeds it up in this followup – Holly Black apparently offered advice on spicing things up a bit and it definitely worked.

There is still some chattering about puzzles and math, but the book becomes generally a lot more readable. There is still a lot of “purple prose” but descriptions are entirely more concise and the action flows so much better.ย  I admire Chokshi for keeping the advice and criticism from book one in mind and making this a better sequel.

The Silvered Serpents has plenty of it’s own merits, including the elevation of Laila to my list of top 5 favorite YA heroines ever. She pulled an Inej and loudly, proudly declared that she was not responsible for the soul, fixing, or happiness of some ruined asshole. I mentally dropped the book and started clapping because Laila is amazing. She is the group’s caretaker, the cement, the big sister that they all need.

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Chokshi gives her young readers credit, something that a lot of YA authors aren’t doing. Authors: please spare teens and other readers the endless repetition and pining and terrible inner monologue rambling that I have seen in a lot of recent novels. The YA genre deserves the reading comprehension level that this book offers. The only thing that slowed the book down for me was how in some chapters it seemed like she had the thesaurus open and was going for the most obscure words possible. To some extent vocabulary in young adult novels is very important, but there is a point where it slows the story down and just gets unnecessary. She clumps them together too and it threw me off just a bit.

These characters have fixed themselves in history firmly as my favorite heist crew. Enrique and Zofia essentially carried the book for me character wise, along with Hypnos’ antics and Laila’s amazingness. I am shipping these people SO hard

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The plot itself is more interesting as well, the crew is tracking down the Sleeping Palace and The Divine Lyrics, which can make gods or break the world depending on how the artifact is wielded. The architecture, traps, obstacles, and magic in this book had me HOOKED. So did some of the historical references, such as the pogroms. Chokshi is bringing in history and lore that actually make sense to the time period and that is awesome.

One other point that I admire is that this book is a meditation on love, masking as grief. Masking as horror. Concern. Banter. Cake and poison. I fully enjoyed reading her discourses on both grief and love in their various forms of expression and think they are both important themes for young adults. I would hand these books to any kid, totally just RIGHT for the target audience.

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My best advice is that even if you struggle reading The Gilded Wolves, read this. It gets better. 100% 5 stars all day long

Categories
Contemporary Fiction Middle Grade Mysteries

Book Tour And Giveaway! The Wild Path by Sarah R. Baughman

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours for having me on the tour for The Wild path!! I will share the synopsis, a quick review, and my favorite quotes from the book mixed in!. I will start by saying that this book has a huge 5 star ๐Ÿด๐Ÿด๐Ÿด๐Ÿด๐Ÿดโคโคโคโคโค๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ rating from me as a horse person with questionable mental health at times, just so timely and perfect.

Categories
Contemporary Fiction Paranormal Young Adult

Book Review: Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Watch Over Me
  • Author: Nina LaCour
  • Publisher & Release: Dutton Books for Young Readers, Sept 15th 2020
  • Length: 272 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ for fans of contemporary!

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Mila is used to being alone. Maybe thatโ€™s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadnโ€™t known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when sheโ€™s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the Northern California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Milaโ€™s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.

My Thoughts:

Thank you so much to the publisher via Bookish First for the finished copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own!

Watch Over Me is a deeeeeply atmospheric young adult contemporary read, with a paranormal/magical realism twist involving ghosts and residual hauntings related to trauma.

Mila becomes too old to remain in foster care, and goes to teach on a farm in northern California where the owners have fostered 40+ children. The interns cook, clean, teach, tend to the farm and children, and everyone lives in a structured environment and seem like one big amazing family.

Then there are the ghosts. Ghosts of children playing in the yard. A dancing ghost that plays the piano. A ghost that re-enacts Mila’s past traumas?

The less I think about the ghost element, the more I enjoy the book. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to me to bring residual hauntings to actual life, but I understand it in a symbolic sense. The theme of residual hauntings due to trauma is deep and difficult and handled so well by LaCour, and these resilient kids who have been through so much. There is a literal but symbolic gesture of embracing the lost and detached part of oneself that still deserves love and belonging and healing.

I loved the little kids, especially Lee, the farm family, and the whole found family theme in general. The farm atmosphere was so real that I always felt like I was walking in the chilly air next to the characters, or joining them at dinner or in the family room.

It’s a shorter and quick book that kept me rapt the entire time, and if I had more time it could have easily been read in a day.ย  A similar book that I read this year, and the review is here somewhere, was Echoes Between Us by Katie McCarty.

Content for gas lighting, housefires, parental abandonment, child abuse, sex overheard and then imagined in no explicit detail, two naked girls in a bath tub with nothing sexual occurring, one usage of the word f**k, near drowning, personal injury, ghosts, and pain related to ghostly encounters

Categories
Crime Horror Paranormal

ARC Review: Comanche by Brett Riley

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Comanche
  • Author: Brett Riley
  • Publisher & Release: Imbrifex Books, Sept 1st 2020
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Rating & Recommend: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸโšก probably

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

Like a cylinder in a six-shooter, what goes around, comes around.

In 1887 near the tiny Texas town of Comanche, a posse finally ends the murderous career of The Piney Woods Kid in a hail of bullets. Still in the grip of blood-lust, the vigilantes hack the Kidโ€™s corpse to bits in the dead house behind the train depot. The people of Comanche rejoice. Justice has been done. A long bloody chapter in the townโ€™s history is over.

The year is now 2016. Comanche police are stymied by a double murder at the train depot. Witnesses swear the killer was dressed like an old-time gunslinger. Rumors fly that itโ€™s the ghost of The Piney Woods Kid, back to wreak revenge on the descendants of the vigilantes who killed him.

Help arrives in the form of a team of investigators from New Orleans. Shunned by the local community and haunted by their own pasts, theyโ€™re nonetheless determined to unravel the mystery. They follow the evidence and soon find themselves in the crosshairs of the killer.

Thank you to Imbrifex Books for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.

Raymond and LeBlanc are two Private Investigators from New Orleans, and they are called to Comanche, TX, to help investigate some brutal murders that have the local authorities stumped.

The settings were extremely well done, whether 1800’s Comanche or present day was being described. The local flavor was there plus the small town politics and family drama. I loved how much Ray and Leblanc love food too, all the talk about NOLA specialties had me hungry. The weather and layout and setting in general played a big role in the book, and it was well done so that I felt like I was there.

The murderer…well… It’s either a person, a ghost, or a person emulating a ghost, and he is a pretty scary entity. I stay away from most ghost and horror stories out of fear but this one was manageable. The legends surrounding Comanche and The Piney Woods Kid and then ghosts in general were pretty well done, and I think they took a predictable but interesting route to track down and stop the killer.

I liked the characters too, I would definitely read more from Ray and Leblanc and McDonald, the psychic.

A few notes: the action was definitely good and heart pounding at times but got a little bit repetitive. The book also does not use quotes, which provided for a smooth reading experience but was an adjustment to get used to. As far as how repetitive the book was in general, I felt like maybe it was a novella or shorter work that got brought to novel length.

Lastly, time for the OneReadingNurse medical rantยฉ: I get that Raymond is an alcoholic and this was done tastefully. It felt real, the struggle is definitely real. What I didn’t love was how after Ray’s hand got pulverized – yes, pulverized – they were making a huge deal out of him taking a prescribed percocet. I get that people can get addicted to anything but 5/325 (mg oxycodone to tylenol) is a standard percocet and for the love of everything I get concerned when patients are afraid to take narcotics for legitimate acute problems. I don’t love seeing that feeling perpetuated in shows because pain and lack of activity post procedure is a much bigger issue than the taking of a medication as prescribed.

Anyway – yes I would recommend it but be aware of the format in case the style will throw you off


P.S: I really am trying to stay active on booksta and here but my brain and body and life in general suck right now.ย  I’m trying but will only be writing for author ARC requests and book tours for a bit.ย  All my plans for self published fantasy month… Ah… Like I said, I’m trying

Categories
Dystopian Horror Literary Fiction Paranormal Science Fiction

Book Review: The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier

Thank you so much to Angry Robot Books for the finished copy of The Phlebotomist in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.

Quick facts:

  • Title: The Phlebotomist
  • Series: standalone
  • Author: Chris Panatier
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot – September 8th 2020
  • Length: 345 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ yes!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

War brought the Harvest. Willa Mae Wallace is a reaper.

To support herself and her grandson Isaiah, Willa works for the blood contractor Patriot. Instituted to support the war effort, the mandatory draw (The Harvest) has led to a society segregated by blood type. Hoping to put an end to it all, Willa draws on her decades-old phlebotomy training to resurrect an obsolete collection technique, but instead uncovers an awful truth.

Patriot will do anything to protect its secret. On the run and with nowhere else to turn, Willa seeks an alliance with Lock, a notorious blood-hacker who cheats the Harvest to support the children orphaned by it. But they soon find themselves in the grasp of a new type of evil.

My dark sci-fi dystopian blood drawing nurse heart was all about this book. My patients not-so-lovingly call us night shift nurses “vampires” because we are always after blood at night, and I was immediately drawn to the synopsis where a mandatory blood harvest has created a segregated society based off of blood types.

Willa Mae is in her 60s and a fantastic older main character. Lock, the blood hacker, can’t be much younger, and for some reason reading about older women playing the heroes struck a chord with me. They are snarky and wholesome and so caring for their young charges. Both rely on their knowledge and use of older technologies in a highly automated big-brother type world to undermine Patriot and practice some old-school phlebotomy to (at least try) to save society.

I can’t talk about Patriot too much without spoilers but the company runs blood collection stations all over the country to fuel the need for blood transfusions after nuclear bombs struck in certain “gray areas.” The lies, murders, and political structure of Patriot.. let me just say that I couldn’t put this book down once I started.

100% not what I expected.

The side cast of characters was great too, there was so much hope in one area called “bad blood” where everyone that was undesirable for transfusions was sent. They grew gardens and repurposed factory stores. The book definitely was not always happy, there were some significant and bloody deaths which I 100% endorse in any good resistance based dystopian.

Lastly there is a bit of transfusion based science provided just for informational sakes and I thought that was great. We have to do so much checking and double checking of blood before transfusing and I think Panatier did a phenomenal job putting this all into layman’s terms for readers.

If you are even slightly into dystopias, sci fi, resistance based novels, even fantasy/paranormal readers could cross over and enjoy this, I totally recommend it.

Happy Book Birthday!!!!