Categories
Literary Fiction Thrillers

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer (Snarky Book Review)

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time you probably have heard me say that by principle, I don’t read books that have a legitimate Goodreads rating of under 3.7 ish.  Rare exceptions are made like when I happen to have time to finally read a Jeff VanderMeer and one is available, and unfortunately I picked his worst rated book by far (3.27).

Guys..don’t be me. Let’s do a quick look at the book first then I’ll share some thoughts


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Hummingbird Salamander
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Jeff VanderMeer
  • Publisher & Release: MCD, 2021
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐ I mean no not really but if you are a fan of the author maybe give it a try

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

From the author of Annihilation, a brilliant speculative thriller of dark conspiracy, endangered species, and the possible end of all things.

Security consultant “Jane Smith” receives an envelope with a key to a storage unit that holds a taxidermied hummingbird and clues leading her to a taxidermied salamander. Silvina, the dead woman who left the note, is a reputed ecoterrorist and the daughter of an Argentine industrialist. By taking the hummingbird from the storage unit, Jane sets in motion a series of events that quickly spin beyond her control.

Soon, Jane and her family are in danger, with few allies to help her make sense of the true scope of the peril. Is the only way to safety to follow in Silvina’s footsteps? Is it too late to stop? As she desperately seeks answers about why Silvina contacted her, time is running out—for her and possibly for the world

This book tried to be a lot of things. It tried to be dystopian and didn’t succeed.  It tried to be an eco-thriller and missed the mark. It didn’t fall anywhere into science fiction despite a lot of bird and salamander facts that ground the plot action to a halt every time he did a facts chapter.

If anything it’s a bit of a mystery and thriller at times and alternate future.  I felt like he skimmed over pandemics and chaos and the world devolving but nothing got enough attention or traction to stick with me.

The main character was absolutely terrible too. Not only because she was aloof and anonymous and her arc didn’t make a ton of sense, but she had the nerve to call herself a good wife and mother despite the fact that she cheated on her husband multiple times, almost did it again, and left them both to the wolves when she could have used her skills in security to hide and try to protect them.  Mom of the year award, right?

I didn’t even mind all the cryptic language – in fact I liked that. The anonymity and ever progressing loss of identity made sense.  It was the random springing from point A to point F that was terrible, and that the narrator really had no motivation to do anything she did (really, you’re just going to sacrifice your family and life and everything for a random mysterious letter?

When the ending came around, even with the mystery kind of solved and the motivations unveiled, even if the main character had known from the start that was what was happening and why…. Would she have done it? I really don’t know.

Basically the premise sounded really good and, yeah, you know, save the trees don’t trash the Earth and wear a mask, etc etc etc

Onwards and upwards


thanks for checking out my book review of Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer.  This copy was obtained through Libby and as always, all opinions are my own  

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

November Wrap Up & December’s Hopefuls

Oyy I am struggling to put my thoughts on November into words.

November Wrapup

I thought my reading fell off the board but I was pretty on par with 11 books finished, the majority of them sci-fi this time.

The breakdown looked like six sci-fi books, one fantasy, three thrillers, and one non fiction. I rated 5 of those three stars or lower too so I am blaming my slump both on life events and some rough picks.

My favorite (and one of only two five star reads) was Wistful Ascending, an indie space opera action packed sci-fi by JCM Berne

Here on the website:

On the blog, I had 17 posts (a near record) but overall views are on the low side of average. I wrote a few articles that I really liked and didn’t get much traction, so, /shrug. I’ve got a few weeks until the yearly subscription renewal to decide if I’m going to keep the blog up next year and it’s a hard choice this time around.

New books:

i bought way too many e-books due to various indie author sales. As far as physical books I went slightly overboard with Angry Robot’s black Friday sale (half off? Ok come on…) And ended up with 6 books. I have no regrets 😅

December TBR:

My December TBR is practically non existent. I just don’t care about reading lists anymore. I’ve got an early finished copy of The Poison Season by Mara Rutherford that I have to review (out 12/6) and two from Celadon Books that I did not request, but I usually do read and review anything they send me because they’re good people.

I’m about 40% of the way through my last current review copy, Rubicon by JS Dewes. It feels very long as I’m reading it but I hope to finish before I head out on some travels next week.

I don’t know how much other reading I’ll get done. It won’t gain me any views but my mood wants to re start my re reading of all the John Sandford books. Prey was something we were all able to connect over and talk about, so the series feels like it could be a comfort read if I have time.

Misc:

Travel wise, my plans for Christmas kind of got ruined but I’ll be back from the UK mid month and then have a few days to regroup and probably head to my mom’s, so again I’ll see what the month entails before committing to any crazy reading. I believe there is going to be some bookshop crawling while I’m in Birmingham so definitely look for one of my bookish travelogue posts mid month 😉


What do you guys have in store for December?? Let me know in the comments!

Categories
Science Fiction

A Talent for War by Jack McDevitt (Book Thoughts)

Ok let me say one thing first so that no one else makes the same mistake I did: This is not a typical military sci-fi 😅 if you are expecting a war with wall to wall action, you will be disappointed.  Once I realized A Talent for War is a historical mystery in space, and adjusted my expectations, my enjoyment grew tenfold.

Basically picture Sherlock but on other planets and in space.  There is an ethical debate on war, tough and exciting situations, futuristic technology, aliens, and many war stories, but we are learning about a 200 year old war through Alex Benedict’s eyes as he tracks down clues to try to explain why a large passenger transport carrying his uncle disappeared.

You want Sherlock in space, 100% keep reading. I originally picked up books 2-4 in this series at a yard sale, then bought this one so I could start at the beginning.  Reading in chronological order is not necessary though to enjoy the series


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: A Talent for War
  • Series: Alex Benedict, #1
  • Author: Jack McDevitt
  • Publisher & Release: Ace, 1989 (mmpb)
  • Length: 310 pages 
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ once it gets going, this really turns into an absorbing mystery 

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

Christopher Sim changed mankind’s history forever when he forged a rag-tag group of misfits into the weapon that broke the alien Ashiyyur. But now, one man believes Sim was a fraud, and Alex must follow the legend into the heart of the alien galaxy to confront a truth far stranger than any fiction.


Here also is the back cover because the synopsis doesn’t quite match:

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Speaking of the cover, I can’t believe Stephen King blurbed the front cover back in the 80s! I always wondered what sci-fi he reads.. 


Ok so finally, here are my thoughts!

If you come into this one expecting a slow burning mystery you will be on the right track.  I loved discovering the true history along with the main character as he read through archives, talked to descendants of fighters and resistance advocates, saw it through interactive video, and eventually went out to discover the “artifact” in question.

Plus there’s the present day mysteries of ‘What the heck happened to the transport carrier with all those people on it, why did it just disappear?’ Was it an accident or foul play? Then you trace back in history to which stories are true, false, embellished, which leaders are frauds? The clues leading back from Alex’s uncle’s library through time present a rather tragic puzzle of the history humans manufacture and the legends we create.

I think those are the main themes too.  Who writes history and what shape does it take? How concrete is the truth that evolves 200 years down the line? What does humanity need to hear to move forward? Who even creates the heroes? This book reminded me a lot of the Civil War in American history, in the way that the South created a totally glorified mythos and down the timeline erected many monuments, the motivations for which the general public are just now broadly being educated about.

There’s a lot of good sci-fi here too. Some of my favorite aspects included his exploration of old time battle ships and deficiencies in early space travel. There are also the terraforming marvels on various worlds like Fishbowl and plenty of ‘ooh-ahh’ moments in the stars. The holo-sim reenactments would be cool too if they actually existed. 

Alex Benedict is a likeable enough character on his own, but McDevitt isn’t the best at character building.  His female sidekick showed up fairly randomly and for some reason latched onto Benedict. None of his females have a lot of personality although for me it’s a not a big deal. The characters aren’t the focus at all even though I was definitely rooting for them.

I docked a star because there were way too many names and places to keep track of.  Some were dead ends and it’s ok to forget them but I feel like I didn’t entirely grasp everything.

All in all, I really liked this book. I had to google what the prologue and epilogue referred to and had a huge AHA moment.  Once A Talent for War got going, I really got lost in the mystery and surprises and tension building in both the present day, and past times.  I love reading history and considering how it is written too.  If you also like history’s mysteries and science fiction, I would totally recommend this one


Thanks for checking out my book review of A Talent for War by Jack McDevitt! As always, all opinions are my own ♥️

Categories
audiobooks Science Fiction

Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair (Book Review)

I tried to focus on indie books during Sci-Fi month this year and then fell off the reading boat. I hope you guys enjoy the few reviews I’ve managed to post!

I did manage to finally finish Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair. I hear so much about the Wind Tide series and have had it on my TBR since it was released.  So then #1 popped up on Chirp with an audiobook sale and I said OH PERFECT, IT’S TIME!

Overall there were some really good aspects, and others missed the mark by five miles for me, so let’s look at the book then dig into my thoughts


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Goodbye to the Sun
  • Series: Wind Tide #1
  • Author: Jonathan Nevair
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 2021
  • Length: 348 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: all thoughts on the audiobook (DNF) aside, I’m rounding up to ⭐⭐⭐ for the book itself

Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:

A nonstop thrill ride across an unstable galaxy, combining moral struggle with character-driven adventure…

Tucked away in the blue sands of Kol 2, the Motes are on the brink of cultural collapse. Razor, a bold and daring pilot, leads a last-ditch gambit against their local oppressors, the Targitians. The plan – abduct visiting Ambassador Keen Draden and use him as a bargaining chip to restore her people’s independence in the Sagittarius Arm. But when the operation unravels, Razor is forced to renegotiate terms with the arrogant diplomat.

Light years away on Heroon a radical resistance blossoms. The alluring rainforest planet haunts Keen. All his problems started there during the Patent War, but it’s where Razor’s troubles may find a solution. The moral tide ebbs, exposing an impossible choice that links their futures together more tragically than they ever thought possible.

Goodbye to the Sun: a space opera inspired by the Greek tragedy, Antigone.


My Thoughts

A quick note on the audio: I just strongly dislike the production and couldn’t finish it. The narrator barely varies his voice or brings excitement. I don’t know if it was the voice or the recording but a lot of words, regardless of playback speed, sounded fuzzy and I kept hearing words incorrectly and became confused. The audio was a DNF after maybe one hour of playtime

So I ended up reading the Kindle version because honestly, the story wasn’t that bad once I took a break and forgot the audio.  There’s a story of a rebel trying to save her people, an ex soldier turned diplomat who is carrying PTSD and war trauma, and a bunch of other interesting characters.  I loved the characters and you never know what you’re going to get from their arcs.

One of my favorite tropes and one that Nevair did execute well, was bringing a place into play as a character itself.  Heroon is a tropical rainforest planet in danger, with beautiful insects and trees and a true spirit of its own. In a way, Kol-2, the other main setting, also had a life of its own with blue sands and wind tides used for energy production.

I also liked the family vs honor vs loyalty vs duty themes.  Who is deluded, who is willing to make what level of sacrifice, what motivates these characters at the end  … All of these things play into the plot and add depth.  As far as the science itself, I needed a little more about how the wind was used in these monopolies, is it stored, shared, transferred, how is the energy even stolen during raids? There was plenty of sci-fi though!

I did think there were too many planets and people and names thrown out at first, some of the politics were lost on me but at the end most of it came together.  I think scope wise it’s a fairly solid space opera.

So now we are at the point where I talk about the things that drove me nuts. I hate feeling lectured by books, and there’s no way around the fact that the book spends an inordinate amount of time lecturing about gender politics. In the middle of a terse situation. It’s not normalizing something if there are multiple lectures involved and I think it went beyond a normal amount of topic exploration. Even in the middle of a heated exchange of rifle fire these characters are hand signing their genders to each other.  I’m all for normalizing but not if it comes at the cost of a lecture.  Also I had a hard time with the points of view – Razor was used in the present tense to summarize the action and give more insight into Keen, who then covered the “action” chapters that occured in the past.  I think I wanted Razor to have a little more agency in the past tense chapters because she would have been interesting on her own, not just as a frame for Keen and other challenges of morality.

In closing, I can’t recommend the audio.  I did absolutely love the settings and plot and moral conflicts. Nevair also nailed the action scenes when he didn’t slow them down with lecture or diatribe, which is just a huge pet peeve of mine.  I think if you like sci-fi with a strong ethical base and plenty of twists, turns, and betrayal, check this one out!


Thanks for checking out my book review of Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair! The book was purchased by me and read for my own enjoyment. As always, all opinions are my own ♥️

Categories
Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

Death, Rites, Lore, & More: How do various fantasy books look at these things?

I’m not sure I’m readily equipped to handle such a big topic yet but I’ve been preoccupied with death and started thinking about how death, ghosts, remembrance, rites, customs and etc are portrayed in different fantasy books.

I’ve also been taking fan submissions for what to write about this week and a Twitter follower said something like “books and/or quotes that left you breathless.” This was a pretty easy thread to combine so here you go, friend!


I know there are a lot of really unique takes on death throughout the fantasy genre but I wanted to take a look at a few I’ve read recently (think the past few years, or, I remember them vividly enough to comment).

First off, in broad terms, a lot of military fantasy handles death in a light that tends to reflect our modern day thoughts.  Characters can die en masse during conflict, some go out as heroes, others die in accidents or simply senselessly, much as in real life.

I’ve got to mention one passage first that left me absolutely breathless when I read it – from Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson.  One could write three essays on death in Malazan but it’s an embodiment of what I wrote above, everything from hundreds of thousands dieing in one day to an isolated hero, to the last man standing.  Malazan spends a lot of time brooding on death and remembrance, with reincarnation and spirits and many, many related themed explored throughout.

Anyway, here is that passage:

The unnamed soldier is a gift. The named soldier–dead, melted wax–demands a response among the living…a response no-one can make. Names are no comfort, they’re a call to answer the unanswerable. Why did she die, not him? Why do the survivors remain anonymous–as if cursed–while the dead are revered? Why do we cling to what we lose while we ignore what we still hold?

Name none of the fallen, for they stood in our place, and stand there still in each moment of our lives. Let my death hold no glory, and let me die forgotten and unknown. Let it not be said that I was one among the dead to accuse the living.

and a quote from Toll the Hounds:

Survivors do not mourn together. They each mourn alone, even when in the same place. Grief is the most solitary of all feelings. Grief isolates, and every ritual, every gesture, every embrace, is a hopeless effort to break through that isolation.

To face death is to stand alone.

Whether or not you agree, I feel this in my bones.  I’ve thought about these passages more than anything else I’ve read in the last year, I’m sure of it.

So let’s look at how death is handled in some other popular (and not so popular) fantasy.

I know there’s a lot of understandable hatred towards Harry Potter right now but as a kid, it was the first book I read that took an honest look at death and put it in palatable terms for me as a young reader.  The series takes a frank look at how much is lost in war, the cost to community, family loss, orphans, and also gives the reader the idea that family never leaves us. When Harry saw his family in the Mirror of Erised, it planted that seed for honor and remembrance and the ones that never leave us, a scene rehashed at the end of the series.  It also runs the themes of heroes, accidents, senseless  curse rebounds, and that no one is immune to death. My favorite was the story of The Deathly Hallows, embracing the eventuality of meeting death on equal terms.  I also love the idea of Thestrals, the skeletal pegasus that is invisible until someone has viewed death – terrifying but actually very friendly and useful once a respectful relationship has formed.  I could write pages on Thestrals alone.

Another favorite series of mine that I talk about frequently, Green Rider, has choked me up more than once in it’s remembrances of the fallen.  I have never read a book with such a subculture built around death and preservation.  The catacombs are the scene for some of the most moving parts of the entire series and shows that heroes and history can be cherished and revered.  The main character has an affinity for communicating with ghosts (which will break your heart some times) but she also experiences such things as a type of berserker ride fuelled by ghosts, the shenanigans of ghosts wreaking havoc in the archives, and more.  One of my favorite scenes is a remembrance ceremony where they all say the name of a deceased rider. That all said, it’s another fantasy series that kills characters in conflict, lets some go out at heroes, some die cruelly at the hands of enemies, and some are just. So. Senseless.  Which is another reason why I shamelessly label Green Rider as military fantasy.

Moving on to a book which holds a rather alien view of death that stopped me cold when I first read it- Slaughterhouse 5.  Just think about death for a moment and try to expand to a nonlinear frame of reference, then read this passage:

The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them….

When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in the particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments.

Kurt Vonnegut

A bit mind-blowing, isn’t it?

There are lots of YA fantasy books that focus on death too, like Scythe, where Neil Shusterman looks at death from a pinpoint of random necessity.  It’s not fair, and no one is immune, but a universally accepted construct of the reapers.  Some other recent ones include The Keeper of Night, about Japanese reapers, and Give the Dark My Love, about necromancy and the toll of plague and death on one’s sanity.  Love and souls.

I’d be amiss if I talked about YA/MG books and didn’t mention The Graveyard Book. I love this book because it gives kids the wonderful message to not fear death, to embrace being alive, and to kind of introduce the solitude and isolation that comes with grief.  If the Macabray existed, would you dance with the dead even if you had no memory of the fact?

You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you can change the world, the world will change

This is starting to get long, so I want to end with another of my favorite authors and how he tends to handle death in his books – from a Christian perspective. Jeff Wheeler writes a lot of fantasy with Christian undertones, so you get everything from the funeral rites of Kingfountain to The Deep Fathoms, where the living can visit the dead once a year should the proper channel be opened.  In one series he offers us a land of the dead symbolized by a wall, in another it’s spirits exiting through a portal in the abbey.  I always find his deaths to be terrible but necessary, back to the theme of heroes and wars and accidents.

Very briefly, some indie books with interesting takes – The Last Blade Priest where deaths are sacrificed to these vulture type deities for sustenance and a whole religion (and conflict) is built around the practice.

A Touch of Light by Thiago Abdalla – I don’t honestly remember this one too well already but there was a new and interesting theme regarding not mentioning the dead at all.   It was really convenient for the characters who seemed to be chased by memories of the dead, frequently.


Wrapping this up, I have always been fascinated with how different books handle death.  I’m not even speaking of books where death is a character like, oh I don’t know, Terry Pratchett, but as a theme or subtext or just a book with interesting ideas. 

Do you have a book that deals with these topics that you enjoy or that made you think? Even a quote? Let me know in the comments!

Categories
audiobooks Science Fiction

Wistful Ascending (Audiobook Review) by JCM Berne

Before jumping into this review I have to thank everyone who has reached out this week. As much as I joke around it’s been a bit dreadful and I endlessly appreciate everyone in the book community who has been down for shared storytime or just validating how useless I’ve been this week. I’m not sure what I’d do without the book community sometimes 😅

Secondly, thank you so much to the author for the audiobook code. I rely a little heavily on audio these days due to my eyesight and am endlessly thankful especially for a bit of pure escapism this week. I’m trying not to just be numb and having superheroes and sentient AI ships (and bears with three penises) queued up on audio has been just what I needed.


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Wistful Ascending
  • Series: Hybrid Helix #1
  • Author: JCM Berne
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 2020
  • Length: 405 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ for anyone interested

A quick note on the audio: narrated by Wayne Farrell at 13h 29m, definitely recommend for fans of audio!

Here’s the synopsis:

A superhero space opera for grownups.

For fans of Invincible and Marvel Cinematic Universe films who like a little hard science fiction in their superheroes.
If Thor and Harry Dresden combined in a transporter accident.

The il’Drach have conquered half a galaxy behind the civilization-ending Powers of their mixed-species children.
Half-human Rohan, exhausted by a decade fighting for their Empire, has paid a secret and terrible price for his freedom.
Now retired, he strives to live a quiet life towing starships for the space station Wistful. His most pressing problems are finding the perfect cup of coffee and talking to a gorgeous shuttle tech without tripping over his own tongue.
A nearby, long-dormant wormhole is opened by a shipful of scared, angry refugees, and the many eyes of the Empire focus uncomfortably on Wistful.
As scientists, spies, and assassins converge, reverting to the monster the Empire created is the surest way to protect his friends. And the surest way to lose them


So what if our superheroes are half alien? What if there’s a DS9ish space station (that’s also sentient) out by some wormholes in the far reaches of a galaxy, and one such superhero has escaped there after deciding to escape his past? What mix of aliens would gather there? What if there’s equal parts humor and tragedy and high octane fight scenes? Would a superhero feel awkward if someone talked to him while peeing?

I listened to this one nonstop in my free time this week, then read the last few chapters on Kindle. You’ll love Rohan and Wei Li and Wistful.  Snarky ship AI’s and the integration of different species are some of my favorite sci-fi tropes and they are here in abundance. I like that the book never took itself too seriously but did have some serious themes. It’s fast paced with readable prose and perfect for my brain right now. I guarantee with all the plot lines and things happening that you’ll never be bored.

I also liked the world building and look at space station life.  There are shopkeeps, refugees, many cultures meshing together,  and even a mysterious tailor.  On a wider scale I think there’s enough background given to the wider conflict and dominant alien race to paint the big picture without bogging the book down with too many details.

There was one wtf moment regarding where their powers came from but I ultimately decided it was more funny than anything else.

All in all, I totally recommend this one as pure space opera & superhero escapism. It’s great in book or audiobook form!


Thanks for checking out my audiobook review & book review of Wistful Ascending.  The audiobook code was received for free in exchange for an honest review and all opinions are my own. Stay tuned for my thoughts on #2 and #3 because both are queued up on Kindle Unlimited right now!

Categories
Science Fiction

Final SPSFC2 Slushpile Thoughts!

Yay I made it through the slush pile 😅 and I believe the rest of the team has too! That said, do look for quarterfinalist updates soon (link at the bottom of this post to the team page!)

That said, here are the final 7 books in the allocation and my own personal thoughts and votes on them!  It’s been an adventure reading 20% of 28 books, and great to be exposed to so many sci-fi authors I’ve never heard of before.

As a general note, I voted yes to keep reading on 8 out of 28 of the books total.  I do plan on reading and reviewing those books, even if they don’t make it to the quarterfinalist round.   I wish everyone’s books good luck moving forward and without further jabbering, here are my first impressions on the last of our books!

(P.s. you can search my prior SPSFC2 posts here using SPSFC2 in the search bar at the top of the page)


22) Rim City Blues by Elliot Scott is a “sci-fi noir mystery adventure” and definitely has some high points. It’s fast paced, has hilarious chapter titles, is well edited, and the synopses for future books sound promising.  It’s weird and up my alley although I just did not enjoy it on a personal level and couldn’t get into the mystery or the story or the characters so far.  I think fans of the genre should check it out but for me,

Voting: no


23) Rise of Ahrik by Nathan W. Toronto has an interesting premise and a promise for lots of military action.  I had a hard time becoming engaged with the narrative and writing though and am

voting: no


24) Road to Juneau by Liam Quane is a YA futuristic novel that takes place after a fictional third world war.  I’m going to recommend it for YA sci-fi fans but had a hard time getting invested in this one.  I think the language put me off more than anything else but I didn’t find much that made me want to keep reading 😭

Voting: no


25) Sugar Plum Tea by Sinnamon Carnelian is a cute story about warring alien races, one eventually occupying earth to mutual benefit, and a little girl left in the rubble.  I was enjoying reading it until it went from a cute found family story to more romance focused, and at that point it came to light that for a mostly character driven story, I didn’t understand the main character  😅 It was also a bit hard to follow along at times.  I think clean romance readers may enjoy this one but I’m going to have to vote no.  That said though, sign me up for a tall, monogamous, pretty alien boy any day

Voting: no


26) Trials on the Hard Way Home by Lilith Frost isn’t something I would pick up based off the description most likely, but found it extremely readable.  There’s some mental health things going on and complicated relationships as a pair of husbands flee a planet for either a real or imagined reason, and that’s all part of the mystery.  There’s a lot of mystery and a bit of sci-fi and I’m curious enough to keep reading

Vote: yes


27) Unknown Horizons by Casey White starts out with an alien abduction and looks like it’s heading towards space opera territory by the end of the first 125 pages or so.  I like the concept and action but am a little iffy on continuing, just based on how long it was taking things to develop and start happening.  I think the space opera audience should check this one out because it could be a case of ‘it’s not you it’s me’, but ultimately I am going to say no.

I did vote this book for my favorite cover in our group though, isn’t it lovely!

Vote: no


8) Webley and the World Machine wraps up my initial round of reading! It’s got a fun concept for a book that is geared towards young adults but I was not a huge fan of the characters at all.  I’m also a big plot reader and just kind of overally was not interested in the opening chapters.  There are lots of good reviews for this one though so if you like humor check it out!


Well – that’s it from me on the slush pile books! I believe we have 7 quarterfinalists selected that will be announced this week, so I’ll hopefully be reading roughly one of those per week between now and the end of January! Keep an eye out on https://thespsfc.org/team-3-at-boundarys-edge/ for the books we have decided to read in full!

Categories
Biographies, Memoirs, Nonfiction

NonFiction November: American Heritage History of the Civil War by Bruce Catton

A quick disclaimer – this is not the illustrated edition. While the new heritage edition is phenomenal and highly recommended by me in all ways possible, I read the older, short one.  I’d probably recommend getting the new/picture edition because everyone loves pictures and as I said, it’s phenomenal.  I actually love and recommend most of the American Heritage History books but let’s not digress too much 😅


While trying to focus on sci-fi month and a million other things, I’ve sadly neglected nonfiction november. I am always and forever a huge fan of history and have written a few pieces on various Civil War literature.  I wish that this blog contained more.

Categories
Mysteries Suspense

Misfire by Tammy Euliano

I’m starting my few remaining ARC posts with an apology to the publishers & authors who trusted me with their books. My turn around time is just unacceptable. I’ve been doing what I can to increase blog and Twitter exposure after the loss of my main platform, and still I can’t even promise the views that you guys deserve.

That said, Misfire by Tammy Euliano is one of those books that was affected the most by my loss of platform and this book deserves all the exposure it can get! I hope my nurse reader friends will check this one out as well as everyone else!

So without further rambling, let’s take a look at this exciting medical mystery


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Misfire
  • Series: The Kate Downey Medical Mystery Series #2
  • Author: Tammy Euliano
  • Publisher & Release: Oceanview Publishing (January 3rd, 2023)
  • Length: 376 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for fans of medical mysteries

Here’s the synopsis:

A device that can save a life is also one that can end it

Kadence, a new type of implanted defibrillator, misfires in a patient visiting University Hospital for a routine medical procedure—causing the heart rhythm problem it’s meant to correct. Dr. Kate Downey, an experienced anesthesiologist, resuscitates the patient, but she grows concerned for a loved one who recently received the same device—her beloved Great-Aunt Irm.

When a second device misfires, Kate turns to Nikki Yarborough, her friend and Aunt Irm’s cardiologist. Though Nikki helps protect Kate’s aunt, she is prevented from alerting other patients by the corporate greed of her department chairman. As the inventor of the device and part owner of MDI, the company he formed to commercialize it, he claims that the device misfires are due to a soon-to-be-corrected software bug. Kate learns his claim is false.

The misfires continue as Christian O’Donnell, a friend and lawyer, comes to town to facilitate the sale of MDI. Kate and Nikki are drawn into a race to find the source of the malfunctions, but threats to Nikki and a mysterious murder complicate their progress. Are the seemingly random shocks misfires, or are they attacks?

A jaw-dropping twist causes her to rethink everything she once thought she knew, but Kate will stop at nothing to protect her aunt and the other patients whose life-saving devices could turn on them at any moment

Categories
audiobooks Mysteries Paranormal Suspense

The Outsider by Stephen King (Audiobook Review)

I think it’s a fair goal to continue to read one Steven King book every month until I’m sick of it. The good news here is that every book I read just causes me to crave more 😅

Additionally helpful towards this goal is the fact that Will Patton narrates a considerable number of Stephen King’s books and he is by far my favorite audiobook narrator of all time.

I think the first question that readers looking at The Outsider should consider is: Do I have to read the Bill Hodges trilogy first? Do I want to? It’s a bit of a commitment but I do believe that meeting Holly Gibney prior and having some familiarity with that series will greatly enhance enjoyment of The Outsider, as it did for me. That said though, you could absolutely read this one alone and only miss a few references. (Plus Will Patton also narrates those books so you could take that route 😅)


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Outsider
  • Series: Holly Gibney #1
  • Author: Stephen King
  • Publisher & Release: Scribner, 2018
  • Length: 576 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ not for the fainthearted

Here’s the synopsis:

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is discovered in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens—Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon have DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying details begin to emerge, King’s story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

As a quick note on the audiobook: offered by Simon & Shuster Audio, narrated by Will Patton at almost 19 hours and worth every second. 


Alright this one starts out as a straightforward enough crime novel, and then takes a rather jarring turn for the supernatural once Holly gets involved.  I think though that since this is something I’ve come to expect from Stephen King, the supernatural transition worked for me and was neither a shock nor a jar as I’ve seen some people writing in their reviews.

As you can tell from the first sentence of the synopsis, if any kind of child brutality bothers you definitely do not read this one. I don’t think I would recommend it as someone’s first Stephen King book either, but I have no problem saying you could start with the Bill Hodges Trilogy and then work into it.

I almost always love the majority of King’s characters.  Ralph is enjoyable both as a detective and a person, especially towards the end when he is willing to suspend disbelief to help Holly the most.  He’s a real hero! My other favorite character was Yune Sablo, although I’m not sure if I would have liked him as much without Will Patton lending his voice.  Yune served as a bridge between all of the other factions and was one of the first to throw some legitimacy into the supernatural line of thought. That and he was just funny.

After the events of End of Watch I wondered how Holly was going to hold up, and thankfully she seems to be doing well. Quirky and whip smart as ever.  I like watching her manage her issues and relate to others in her own way, and it’s undeniable that she’s as brave and prepared for action as anyone on the force.

While the book was brutal and a little bit hard to read at times, I appreciated The Outsider because the action never let up and there was always something to be interested in.  At least in the first half of the book too it was fun to play detective and try to figure out how the heck the crime had occurred. I like the themes of the supernatural versus the terrible things that criminals do in everyday life, and how different really is our understanding of these things? Holly had some excellent insights too into the nature of the paranormal and humanity’s potential reaction to the possibility.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this one if you are a fan of Kings writing or a fan of crime/paranormal detective thrillers.  I’ll certainly continue to seek out other books along this line that he’s written.

(P.s. no, I have not seen the TV series yet but I am 100% interested in it, especially since Stephen King liked it, so maybe I’ll try to track that down this winter!)


Thanks for checking out my book review & audiobook review of The Outsider by Stephen King!