Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra (ARC Review)

As the last book I requested from Wednesday Books, I can happily say that Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is one of the best I’ve read from the imprint.  Mehrotra takes medieval India, a culture that I haven’t been introduced to in fantasy books, YA or otherwise, and crafts an interesting world with plenty of lore, magic, monsters, food, politics, and tons more.

They also adjusted the age range on Amazon to 14-18. which is a small but awesome step.  The book has a few mature themes involving violence and gore, but overall I’m impressed with Mehrotra and her willingness to keep everything in the book age appropriate for the teen reading experience.  That all said, I’m willingly reviewing this one with no issues between me and the book

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Rati Mehrotra
  • Publisher & Release: Wednesday Books, Oct 18, 2022
  • Length: 352 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ For fans of YA fantasy

Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:

In Rati Mehrotra’s YA fantasy novel Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove, a young guardswoman struggles with her unwitting role as a major pawn in the deadly games between two kingdoms in a monster-infested alternate medieval India.

Bound to the queen of Chandela by a forbidden soul bond that saved her when she was a child, Katyani has never fallen short of what’s expected of her―becoming the best guardswoman the Garuda has ever seen and an advisor to the crown prince when he ascends to the throne. But when the latest assassination attempt against the royals leaves them with a faceless body and no leads to the perpetrator, Katyani is unwillingly shipped off to guard the Chandela princes in Acharya Mahavir’s esteemed monastic school in Nandovana, a forest where monsters have roamed unchecked for generations.

Katyani wants nothing more than to return to her duties, especially when the Acharya starts asking questions about her past. The only upside of her stay are her run-ins with Daksh, the Acharya’s son, who can’t stop going on about the rules and whose gaze makes her feel like he can see into her soul. But when Katyani and the princes are hurriedly summoned back to Chandela before their training is complete, tragedy strikes and Katyani is torn from the only life she has ever known. Alone and betrayed in a land infested with monsters, Katyani must find the answers to her past so she can save what she loves and forge her own destiny.

Bonds can be broken, but debts must be repaid.

Starting with the plot today: This book kept me guessing.  I was frequently surprised by the darker twists and turns it took to keep the plot moving, something I don’t see as much in YA books these days.  This wasn’t a happy story. It took a lot of maneuvering and bloodshed to get from point A to point B and at no point was I bored, confused, trying to skim, or otherwise unengaged while reading.

The Characters: Let’s go here next because it’s YA and everyone wants to know about the characters.  Katyani is actually one I can relate to, because while she is super competent at her job, she has like absolutely zero social or diplomatic skills.  She did develop these as she went, as well as her general social maturity level. It was funny at times and other times detracted from the overall story, but it took very little time for me to be rooting for her as a character.

About the princes, the less said the better.  The banter was fun and bountiful.  There were quite a few side characters that played big roles, I don’t feel like any character space was wasted but there are too many to mention.

Daksh… ha ha Daksh. He is another super competent character that had the social skills of a rock, and I respected how strongly tied he was to his morals and rules.  I actually wanted to smack Katyani a few times for not respecting his beliefs at all, although it kind of became apparent that the teasing was the only way she could figure out to make him a little more human at times. He is just great, really great, where are the men like this in real life?

Let’s just say that I shipped the little romance (blessedly appropriate, they actually cared for each other and only kissed, like twice).

Next the worldbuilding: for a standalone YA book, I am all about the world building here. Mehrotra even wrote a fairly personal index in the back about the various aspects of Indian culture and mythology she brought in, which was lovely to read.  From geography to monsters to food, politics, clothing, music, weapons, and more, even ethics and moral codes, this one is packed full of world building and I’m all for it

Last but not least, the magic: Magic had two forms here, the natural spiritual force which could be turned into magic, and a form that could be conjured and considered stolen.  I liked how thoroughly these were brought into the story and used in various forms throughout, whether in the form of battle magic or healing meditation.

The monsters and ghosts tied into the magic in some ways too (some heartbreaking ways for sure) and I think it’s worth reading to find out how.  I loved how connected to ancestry and rites the culture is.

So let’s wrap this up by tying it all together: you get a YA fantasy set in an alternate medieval India, packed full of plotting, magic, intrigue, culture, worldbuilding, and just tons more.  The characters are ones that I personally enjoyed which went a long way towards my overall enjoyment, since usually I can’t be bothered to focus on YA characters.  The main themes involve the changing face of home, the various forms of monsters, adapting to other’s cultures, and learning to find your own way in the world.

Thanks for tuning in, up next will be my review of Foundryside coming later this week!

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

Sunday Funday: 10 cool things in the library that aren’t books

I don’t know why I’m even awake this afternoon but the upside is that I’m getting some cleaning done!

So I’m damp dusting my shelves and picking up random objects thinking “oh, that’s cool”, or “I remember this!” And of course I know what’s on my shelves but at the same time, it’s fun to look back, and therein came this post idea.

So here we go on a dreary Sunday: 10 cool things in my library that aren’t books, in no specific order


1)The chandelier – it casts whimsical leaf patterns everywhere and I love it. Seeing this photo, it needs to be wiped down but I’m terrified of spiders 🤔  IMG_20220904_150439106

2) This mug, because it was a gift after a year long series and litverse buddy read that I tend to look back on as a good experience IMG_20220904_151416774_HDR

3. This manuscript because it was my first, bound or unbound. The publicist is actually a friend of a friend (discovered incidentally because apparently the publishing industry is a small place) and we all got a kick out of the mutual connections. Regardless, I appreciated having a manuscript of something IMG_20220904_151329715

4. These prints because I love Beth Revis both as an author and a person and getting a surprise letter from her was beyond amazing.  Our pandemic chats and heart warrior cheers will be one of my best memories when I’m long gone as a blogger 🙃

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5) That time I bought all my flooring supplies and the guy at the loading area plunked this ridiculous fake crow on top of my truck and said happy Halloween 😂 we named it Kaz obviously 

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6. This hand painted dragon statue from Hunter aka ALPHA FOUR (Far Forest Scrolls), I don’t remember how we originally got into touch but years later, this dragon is considered a prized possession!  I do hope we can do that Brunch interview some day when things get better ❤️

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7. This skull candle from a local artist friend who runs The Smell of Fear candles! How cool is that? I was eyeballing them forever and am glad to finally have one!

 

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8. This Jane Austen teacup candle, I can’t get over the actual antique tea cup and the mint smell. Hollow Ever After was my first rep company and this was a parting gift after a wonderful 2 ish years of partnership!

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9. The chess pieces! Just all of them. It was a great marketing idea to try to collect them all while shelflovecrate was still in business

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10) This set from …. Erk… Crete? As my only shelf space, the library shares a few knickknacks too 😂

There you have it! To anyone reading, what cool things are on your shelves?

Categories
audiobooks Fantasy

The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman (Book Review)

A few weeks ago I had a patient with a very Irish wife. She was a talker, and usually I discourage talkers because I have actual work to do, right? Wrong! I told this woman to talk as much as she wanted because I love listening to the Irish accent and rolling cadence.  Anyone remember Damian McGinty? /Swoon

Anyway, that led me to asking the SFF Oasis discord group if they knew of any audiobooks narrated by Irish natives, and the one recommendation that popped out was The Blacktongue Thief by Christopher Buehlman.

Although he resides in Florida and is not the tad bit Irish that I know of, Buehlman came pretty darn close to nailing it and I just love, love, loved, both the book and audiobook of this equally funny and dark fantasy.  When I wasn’t laughing out loud at the slang and other hilarious turns of language, I was cringing at the darker elements or “oooh-aaaahing” at the world building and tattoo magic. Definitely a book I would recommend to most fantasy fans.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Blacktongue Thief
  • Series: Blacktongue #1
  • Author: Christopher Buehlman
  • Publisher & Release: Tor Books, 2021 (Macmillan Audio)
  • Length: 416 Pages (12:26 audio length)
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨   For fans of slightly darker fantasy that can take a joke

Here’s the synopsis:

Set in a world of goblin wars, stag-sized battle ravens, and assassins who kill with deadly tattoos, Christopher Buehlman’s The Blacktongue Thief begins a ‘dazzling’ (Robin Hobb) fantasy adventure unlike any other.

Kinch Na Shannack owes the Takers Guild a small fortune for his education as a thief, which includes (but is not limited to) lock-picking, knife-fighting, wall-scaling, fall-breaking, lie-weaving, trap-making, plus a few small magics. His debt has driven him to lie in wait by the old forest road, planning to rob the next traveler that crosses his path.

But today, Kinch Na Shannack has picked the wrong mark.

Galva is a knight, a survivor of the brutal goblin wars, and handmaiden of the goddess of death. She is searching for her queen, missing since a distant northern city fell to giants.

Unsuccessful in his robbery and lucky to escape with his life, Kinch now finds his fate entangled with Galva’s. Common enemies and uncommon dangers force thief and knight on an epic journey where goblins hunger for human flesh, krakens hunt in dark waters, and honor is a luxury few can afford.

A thief misjudges a mark and ends up on the adventure of his lifetime, discovering political intrigues and magic beyond his imagination along the way . Other reviewers have plugged the book as Abercrombie x Eames and I agree pretty well with that assessment.

This is a rare novel where I praised most of the elements equally, so it’s hard to tell where to start.  Let’s do the characters first.  Kinch is one of those characters that I ended up rooting for right away due to his sense of humor and ability to quickly assess and act in various situations.  Galva is a tough warrior with the sense of humor of a rock, and her lack of sense of irony/sarcasm alone makes her likeable. She inadvertently provides a more natural comic relief than Kinch and his frequent turns of phrase.

I don’t always love narration from the first person point of view but it ended up being an immersive and enjoyable experience via the audiobook.  I did a mix of reading and listening and believe that to not hear the words out of the author’s mouth is to miss a large part of the experience of consuming this book. This is also a big, big fantasy world with lots of local flavor and many stories and song, which are sung beautifully in the audiobook, and seeing it all through Kinch’s eyes gives us a consistent “jumping point” into widely varied action.

Have you ever wondered the difference between a squid and a kraken? Basically stay the f*ck on land. You will learn. The book covers adventure on both land and water!

I’ve briefly touched on the world building which is very well done.  You get all sorts of both macro and micro details, legends, songs, food, local customs and laws, even money, magic, and more. It’s a lovely scale of world building. I’ve never minded small info dumps and found this a good balance. One thing that added a little depth to the entire book was how the cause and effect of various wars and curses and actions of the populace have ripple effected the entire novel.  I like that consistency.

As a horse girl that has read a lot of horse centric fantasy, I can say that outside of Green Rider I have never seen horses described as gratuitously as Buehlman does.  The end scene with the giant… *sigh*

Now let’s talk about my other favorite part- the magic system! The magic tattoos are so freaking cool, just, so cool.  I have never seen the ink represent actual living animals and living spellwork before. I would give my skin to be able to call upon my old dog’s portrait to bring her into existence again! There’s also more macabre magic that is not tattoo related but I think it’s worth reading to see what those things entail.

I always appreciate books that take language into consideration. Kinch spends a lot of time with his various language speaking companions explaining the difference between languages, his word choices, and, of course the slang! The slang is just phenomenal, it’s an art form that the author is professionally versed in (literally) and I never knew if I’d be laughing out loud at something completely absurd or cringing at something going down the grim dark rabbit hole on the next page. The light and dark is fairly well balanced but overall the book had a darker tone despite all the dry humor.

All things considered, this is definitely an audiobook or book worth checking out.

And did I mention there’s a blind cat? There’s a blind cat

Categories
Fantasy

Age of Shadows by R.E. Palmer (Book Review)

I thought last night’s post would wrap me up for this month here but it’s been a while since I could post a review.   Last year around this time I read the first book in R.E. Palmer’s Song of Echoes series [See Here] and ended up enjoying it quite a bit.  The series has an epic classic fantasy feel with large scale battles and brave deeds, sorcery, a powerful leader defending the realm, tales of old, and a not necessarily happy outcome.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Age of Shadows
  • Series: Song of Echoes #2
  • Author: R.E. Palmer
  • Publisher & Release: Self, December 2021
  • Length: 437 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ Yes for classic fantasy fans that don’t mind the indie feel

Here’s the synopsis:

As Elodi strives to defend her realm against a new enemy threatening the north, Toryn discovers the dark secret that plunged Hope into despair, destined to live under a shadow of her own making.

But as both struggle in the face of overwhelming forces, the Archon demands all who can bear arms, rally to his cause.

Age of Shadows has been sitting in my request pile since about February making me feel guilty, and I finally made time to pick it up. Palmer introduced a ton of new world building and history, character development, magic, new races, stark imagery, and many other things that made it another enjoyable read. Despite its somewhat numerous flaws in editing, this is a solid indie fantasy and the conclusion was particularly mind blowing.

Let’s talk about the magic first since it was the biggest change from book one.  We saw more of the Wyke’s abilities, for bad and for good, and all the terrible things that the dark magic can accomplish.  The Song and Verses were developed too in both theory, good, bad, and corruption, with a returning character (Hope/Nyomae) discovering her past.  There is also magic introduced with the two new races, Amayan and Nym, both of which contributed a lot of mysticism to the storyline.  Don’t worry though there’s plenty of sword, bow, and siege machinery too if you prefer your battles fought by hand.

The best part of this one was how Palmer took all the world building gaps in Song of Echoes and fleshed out the world through reverie and discovery.  The end is absolutely mind blowing. How can deception and corruption run so deep? HOW? I admire an author that is willing to tear their whole world down.  Will they even manage to rebuild it with the core cast going forward into book three?  There are so many tangled political webs and fronts of battle to defend that I have no idea how he’s going to take the series forward.  I appreciate all the micro world building too as things like the Sunrise tradition were brought to page.

The amount of military strategy and preparation/execution of battles through Elodi’s chapters felt like a bonus.

The characters are pretty well coming into themselves too.  Toryn has recovered from captivity and is learning his own personal history. Nyomae is starting to teach him the ways of the Verse and he FINALLY intersects with Elodi’s storyline.  I have to say she is still the star of the show for me. The Lady faces every fear imaginable as her city falls and she is summoned to defend the realm despite the loss of her lands.  I don’t know how she rode straight into battle but she did, with her two captains at her side. Gundrul and Cubric both ended up being good characters too, carrying most of the banter and “aw shucks” moments.  I’m worried for the other captain, Ruan, hoping he made it to safety. Palmer doesn’t tend to leave loose ends so I assume he will be back in book three.

I do wish though that some of the revelations came sooner, although I’m ok with a slowburn.

And the end? No spoilers but the entire world did a somersault and I’m here for it this time.

Overall: Tons of action and many new discoveries kept Age of Shadows moving at a great pace.  I loved all the new things and never felt bored while reading, As a fan of all the world building ever – yes I’ll keep reading these!  I kept a star docked for the ton of editing issues and a few mishaps but overall would recommend these to fantasy fans who enjoy a large scope and classic feel to their adventures.

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

Summer Bookish Housekeeping & Fall “Vibes”

That’s a fancy title for “here is everything bookish that isn’t going to make it into another post”!

What you’ll find here:

  1. Another thank you
  2. An update on sponsored content & moral dilemmas
  3. My book haul for the summer
  4. Plans for September
  5. The new addition to my library (best garage sale find ever)
  6.  THE SECRET WRITING PROJECT THATS NOT A SECRET ANYMORE!

1) First off thank you to everyone who sent messages, commented, or otherwise reached out regarding my Four Years In post.  I thought no one would read past the first paragraph since my views on non-bookish posts tend to be much lower, but thank you anyway.  I’ve got 2000 monthly views and at least six friends and I appreciate every single one of you.

2) I stopped doing my reading trend posts because nothing has changed. This summer consisted of mostly adult SFF reading now that I have severed influencer ties with Wednesday Books and won’t be doing more sponsored content from them. I feel so much better, I have always been a stubborn mule about some things and I’m not going to keep featuring books with certain content that I don’t believe should be advertised towards children as young as 13.

Thank you to my friend Nathaniel over at HecticReadingLife (on Instagram) for giving me the confidence to say NO, as well as validating every single post on subject matter.

It’s hard to say no to something I worked that hard for, and am grateful for being a constantly featured influencer and reviewer voice but that’s life and learning and it’s the right decision for me!

ONTO MORE INTERESTING THINGS:

3. My book haul for the summer! I’m reading my shelves, donating, and not really buying books, so it’s a pretty small haul. I birthday treated myself to a signed Indigo edition of EOTV that cost more than the rest of my yearly reading purchases combined — yikes! Left is the haul for $15, not bad, right is one of the shelves at the best little used bookshop ever.

I also want to take two seconds and talk about Indigo – the SFF collection was mind blowing! The mood was really great too. There were young folks sitting there reading and no one was bugging them, so many people browsing, and I got a coffee with some kid who also thought Sanderson is super pretentious! Montreal was a fun trip but I’m not going to do a bookish travels post like I have before

4) Plans for September – I requested no ARCs for this fall and am going to dig into the SPSFC2 pile for the most part, as well as just reading whatever I want.  It took a bit to extricate myself from the web of influencer expectations that has been dictating my reading for so many years.  I’ve hardly been posting on insta recently too. Followers and connections aren’t the same thing and I’ve made more ‘friends’ on twitter and discord in six months than I have in four years on Insta, so that’s something.

5) Look what I found! The guy was selling all these wonderfully framed posters for $10 in an estate sale. Most of them were Star Wars related but I found a solid Trekkie poster. Wall mounting it is another story so it’s sitting on my overflow shelf for now looking amaaaaazing

6) I saved this for last but I think by now everyone knows that I’m working on a project. It started as a silly idea but now that my friend is in on it and interested in illustrating and offering thoughts, maybe getting his story out there, I’m frantically outlining so he can start working should he decide to.  He’s in his 30s with DMD and has been following my page and talking books with me for a while now, and this started after I read a few of his more recently cryptic posts and said “maybe write a book”? Well, that was cute, because here we are writing something of probably the length of 50 pages tops but it is what it is and I’m happy to put my name on whatever results.

If it ends up taking place in space that’s cool too because I can’t figure out how far in the future to place this for the technology to make sense and “in space” solves everything.

I’m really hoping that he bites and finds some validation in the project because whether or not there is an audience, writing can be therapeutic and I know what that screaming into the void feeling is like on some level.  It’s 2022 and medicine still fails people in so many incomprehensible ways, constantly pounding home a lesson I learned so long ago that, to paraphrase,  God always wins.  There are tons of people out there that I think could get something out of our pair of feuding ranchers who are hurtling towards vision loss and inevitable death.  Gloomy as fuck but it’s morbidly satisfying to just throw all your failures onto the page for the universe to do what it will with, which is a lesson that he taught me.  The punchline is going to be “TEARS OR YOUR MONEY BACK!”


Anyway – that’s my Summer Recap and Fall Vibes update! To end on happy thoughts, it’s finally apple season and my trees look amazing! It looks like most of the seasonal garden will be ready soon too.  My favorite part of this time of year is baking, canning, cool weather coming, and soon to be spooky season! Remember that time of year where everyone on instagram is ready to throttle my skeleton? OH yes, it’s nearly here!

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews Science Fiction

All Things SPSFC2 Round 1 & The Slush Pile!

2022 is going by at dizzying speed and the initial stages of the SPSFC (SPSFC2) are underway!

Our fearless leader of team At Boundary’s Edge has posted a few articles to meet the judges and see the books we were allocated in round one! His blog is easy to navigate so definitely go check it out and stay up to date with things from there!

Here is the link for the whole competition. 300 (ish) books, 10 teams, many judges, all reading a whole lot of self published sci-fi over the course of the next few months. It’s a little intimidating but after years of following SPFBO it’s cool to be participating in this!


The team formula for round one is to read about the first 20% of each of our allocated books, and then take a vote on whether or not we would read the whole book.

Easy enough! The problem for me is keeping track of my thoughts on so many books! Therein lies the real point of this post – a few thoughts on each of the books I am reading in this round.

What I’ll do is show the title and link to the book, then add a few of MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS on each one after reading the first 20%. Again – MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS – which in no way shape or form reflect the thoughts of the team or anyone else! Check back here for my progress through our 28 book slushpile!


**p.s. I’ll probably make a new post after 5-10 books**


Here we go! #1 is Arkhangelsk by Elizabeth H. Bonesteel. At 439 pages this is a colony based novel with a different form of first contact.  I was interested but found the first 20% lacking in development.  Ideas are constantly introduced without background, and I needed just a little more info to have my attention snared.  My favorite aspects were having an older MC and a possible medical mystery. It just didn’t get off the ground fast enough for a yes vote from me.


Book #2, Between Mountain and Sea: Paradisi Chronicles, by Louisa Locke, carries a bit of a fascinating concept in that it’s part of an open world science fiction universe, where multiple authors have written novels about different families and people within the world, genre or style be darned. It presents as a soft sci-fi slice of life type read, for a Young adult audience.

At 270 pages, it features a teenage girl on a settled planet that’s now a few generations in.  I think the point is that she doesn’t agree with her parent’s choices for her and is going to find her own way (come of age) throughout the book.

I have to say, as a OneReadingNurse Medical Disclaimer© that there is enough irrational fear regarding lasik surgery already and the character’s surgical complication does not work medically or logically.  The whole thing wasn’t presented in a way that made sense and could be mis-informative to readers that may need treatment and already be fearful.  Also there was no other evidence of her being visually impaired.

As much as I LOVE the study on language and the pronunciation gallery, and I know there’s a soft historical character based sci-fi loving audience out there for this, I’ve got to say No 


Book #3 is my first YES! Black Table by Anttimatti Pennanen is a shorter one at 238 pages that seems packed full of fun. I love these nerdy men and their friendship. There is a Bill and Ted vibe to this humorous sci-fi adventure that shouts out so many pop culture references from Star Trek to Armageddon.

Despite the actually most inaccurate resuscitation attempt ever (please just ask a paramedic or medical professional before writing these scenes, we are happy to help 😂) I am immensely enjoying this one so far.


#4 – Alphabetical order gets a bit fuzzy here since I don’t recognize words like A/An/The. I went with The Ceph: Reborn for my next slush pile read

I LOVED the opening, with the introduction of the Ceph through the first few billions of years that they colonized the planet. The descriptions of the world ships, the idea in general, the synopsis, and humanoid octopus characters? I was on board all the way. Don’t mind me, I can get through the info dump, no problem. Poehler also put an obvious ton of time into his appendix, glossary, history etc for the end content, which I liked reading.

Then we get to the current day (2018) and it turned into the first person points of view of an octopus and a squid. I got super confused reading first person from underwater creatures for so long. I was interested in finding out what happens once the humans got involved (I gave it 120 pages and found only hints of human detection) but at the end of the day, am going to say …. Cripe I am really up in the air and a week later I am still thinking about this book


Moving on, Book #5 is The Cult Shadow by Peter Lamb! Despite a beautiful cover and interesting synopsis, I struggled with the writing itself and could not become engaged with the story at all.


#6 in the pile is Dangerous Thoughts by James L. Steele! I was getting flashbacks of reading Quozl by Alan Dean Foster here, mostly because there is a LOT of sex on everyone’s mind and some rather … Uh… Furry encounters.  It’s a bit of a personal preference but this was too much for me with the emphasis on casual encounters that started a little ways in. The plot was a bit muddy as well despite the fact that it’s interesting to have so many different species interacting as animal characters. I would personally say no here as well 


#7 is the last book I’m going to add to this post, as going in quarters seems logical and will somewhat align with what another group member is doing. The seventh book is Data Mine by Lou Lovino. At 209 pages this is one that reads rather quickly, about using biometric tattoos to monitor people of global interest such as politicians.  It’s a great idea for a techno-thriller, although it jumped around a lot and I found myself being thrown out more than drawn in by the short, alternate POV chapters. Also with the slightly stilted dialogue I am voting to not pass it forward. That said though, I think this one has a readership if you love political thrillers with a twinge of cyberpunk


Thanks for following my SPSFC journey so far! The second round of news and slush pile reads to be posted early this coming week!

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews Science Fiction

(A Day Late) Top 5 Favorite Sci-fi Doggos

National Dog Day was yesterday, 8/26, so consider this a one day late “Top Five Friday” type of post!

I was thinking of a couple different topics to write about until I have more review content, and everyone loves dogs right?


Here are the top 5 I can think of easily, ready go!

1) Snuff!

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I am 90% sure that A Night in the Lonesome October is considered sci-fi. If you haven’t read it, Snuff is Jack the Ripper’s dog and the narrator of the story which takes place over the evenings of a particular October. It’s a wild book

2. George

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This is another kind of wild series of sci-fi books where a man is taken captive in order to be sold as an exotic pet to some aliens.  He is captured along with a dog named George who can talk after being enhanced by the aliens so they could sell him for a higher price.   All sorts of adventures happen in a pretty limited environment and George is a good boy!

3. Porthos

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I’m pretty sure I remember Porthos in the novels too so I’m counting this one.  What a freaking little cutie. Enterprise gets a bit of a bad rap but hey, I enjoyed it anyway. 

4. Seymour

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Definitely not in a book, but Futurama is directly responsible for being the most amazing cartoon in existence and I won’t even lie about how many real life tears this episode caused! From Jurassic Bark, poor Seymour waited a very, very long time for Fry to come back 😭😭😭😭😭😭

5) Dennis

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Hollow Kingdom was one of the first advanced reading copies I got when I started doing this for more than fun, and, I think that’s why Dennis sticks out in my mind.  In a post apocalyptic world where the animals are the only ones alive, S.T. the crow and Dennis the hound have to rescue the other animals and figure out how to save the day. Dennis got the short end of the stick is this one but he was another very good boy!


I have to give an honorable mention to literally every dog Patrick Stewart has ever rescued. This man does so much for the pitbull image and I’ll always respect him the most for that! If you didn’t know that the dog in the show (the featured post image) is portrayed by a real foster dog, now you do!

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Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

One Year Older, Four Years In (My Brain Hurts)

Alright friends, I’m getting a record smashing number of views on the blog this month so if your eyes are on this, thank you! Two thousand visits in August so far – I can’t even fathom that! I find it hilarious because I was fairly well convinced that absolutely no one reads my silly book thoughts and random posts. The craziest thing is that most of the views are coming from search engines? I would have bet it was Twitter but whoever is searching for books and clicking my links, again thank you!

Well, now the joke is on you because my brain hurts and I am going to incoherently rant about a bunch of random things

My four year Booksta-versary is coming up and I can’t believe that I’ve been talking about books publicly for four years now. I’ve only gotten consistent on my domain here in the past year or two as I’ve been moving away from Insta. I can’t believe 8k people follow me there but it’s not meant for people who really just want to read and review. I’m finding myself more at home on Twitter as far as sharing book updates. I am not, and have never been in this for anyone’s drama. I just wanted to talk about books and find the like minded people that I knew were out there somewhere. They just don’t happen to be here.

I started book blogging .. wow, yes, four years ago now. My first post was 8/31/18, right after my main, and then second show horse got irreparably injured within months of each other. I went from having everything to just about nothing, REAL quick, and I’m pretty sure the indie community here saved my sanity when I had no where to put energy and frustration into, and discovered Bookstagram. So again – thank you for that.

To zoom in on the present: My birthday is a weird time of year for me now, seeing as it’s been right amid some of our worst Covid spikes in the hospital and around this time last year my ex left, followed by my long time renter who had become a friend, followed by my old dog who finally passed on, like hell, August sucked last year. I don’t blame him one bit for leaving and it was a huge adjustment (and relief)? this year to just do everything by myself. It required cutting down my work load to be manageable by one person with a full-time job, and left me with the knowledge that one person isn’t meant to do everything. That said, hell here I am! Early 30s and no ties that can’t be replanted elsewhere, I’m dying to keep downsizing and see the world a little bit again.

That said, *dance* ChiCon is coming!! I can only go for two days but I’m sooooooo freaking excited!

Anyway, yes I’m winding this down and back to the point, it’s been hard for me to sit down and finish a book. I think I have four started right now and I’ve got too many thoughts pinballing around to focus on reading.

My current reads are The Stardust Thief (very good), The Blacktongue Thief on audio (brilliant, bloody brilliant), and I’m slowly picking away at R.E. Palmer’s second book Age of Shadows when I read on the Kindle. I think I finally gave up trying to finish book give of the Wheel of Time.

HAH more ranting now –

What’s killing me now, I *THINK* why I can’t focus is because I’m heading back to work on Monday night. I’ve been off for most of August and I didn’t realize how truly and utterly miserable I am at work, but it’s got me to the point of anxiety (something I’ve never had before) again and I haven’t even started back yet. I was endlessly sick for most of the spring and summer and I think it was stress more than anything else, because I just started feeling like a human being again finally and all it took was getting out of that place, sleeping like a regular person for a few weeks, and spending most of my time on the farm and fixing up my gardens finally!

Last thing to mention is the interview series – I am trying to bring the Sunday Brunch Series back on a regular basis but I always get swamped with requests and quickly overwhelmed. I say no and people get offended, and I don’t have time for that negativity in my life. I am trying though – there are a few dates lined up and my little SBS is my one true pet project on here.

Also start looking for some SPSFC content, I am glad to have a whole pile of indie sci-fi books to start paying attention to!

So – thankfully I don’t think anyone is reading this far and I have now used my space to vent my thoughts. I don’t know what the next year will bring and I think most people know that I’m chewing the idea of relocating somewhere a little cheaper and easier to manage. That’s a whole other realm of possibility. It’s mentally exhilarating to admit to myself that I’d rather sell everything and go back to my old, pre healthcare career, never going to happen but a girl can wish.

And, for the foreseeable future I will continue to talk books with anyone who will listen to me scream into the void about them!

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Blade of Secrets by Trivia Levenseller

Thanks to BookishFirst for the finished paperback of Blade of Secrets! I claimed this one with some saved up points and am leaving a review accordingly.

I’ve been hit or miss with Levenseller’s books so far and fall somewhere in the middle with this one. I think she got some pushback for the promiscuity in The Shadows Between Us and toned it back, thankfully keeping the hookup content off page. For a young adult book I just don’t follow her philosophy that all that content is needed to write a good story!


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Blade of Secrets
  • Series: Bladesmith #1
  • Author: Tricia Levenseller
  • Publisher & Release: Feiwel & Friends May 2021
  • Length: 336 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ for YA fantasy fans

** Note that the paperback released June, 2022 from Square Fish **

Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:

In Blade of Secrets, the first book in Tricia Levenseller’s exciting new YA fantasy duology, a teenage blacksmith with social anxiety is forced to go on the run to protect the world from the most powerful magical sword she’s ever made.

Eighteen-year-old Ziva prefers metal to people. She spends her days tucked away in her forge, safe from society and the anxiety it causes her, using her magical gift to craft unique weapons imbued with power.

Then Ziva receives a commission from a powerful warlord, and the result is a sword capable of stealing its victims secrets. A sword that can cut far deeper than the length of its blade. A sword with the strength to topple kingdoms. When Ziva learns of the warlord’s intentions to use the weapon to enslave all the world under her rule, she takes her sister and flees.

Joined by a distractingly handsome mercenary and a young scholar with extensive knowledge of the world’s known magics, Ziva and her sister set out on a quest to keep the sword safe until they can find a worthy wielder or a way to destroy it entirely.

This is a fast paced book with a fun sounding plot.  The synopsis presents a good idea and I can usually read one of her books in one or two sittings due to not having to think too hard, so I said WHY NOT and claimed a free copy.  Enchanted weaponry, an all powerful sword, anxiety, ok sure.

Blade of Secrets reminds me more of Warrior of the Wild than her other books. Levenseller gives just enough world building to support the story but it kind of feels like walking through a cool place in the dark with a flashlight – you see what’s in front of you and some periphery, but miss a lot of potentially interesting details.

The same goes for the magic system. It is intent based for Ziva and seems to be hereditary. What we see is pretty cool from the world’s two magic users but I think there’s potential for a lot more.

Character wise, I liked everyone except the main character. The four characters (Ziva, Temra, Petrik, Kellyn) had good group chemistry and I liked that the sisters looked out for each other. I get that the whole point was ZIVA HAS ANXIETY but at the same time, was she really so inwardly focused that she never considered how Temra deserved a life of her own? Ziva was so focused on providing for them that she kind of forgot that she had another human being on hand!

That said though, I liked seeing Ziva and Kellyn come out of their shells.  They did have good chemistry but again Ziva was so quick to overreact to everything that it was frustrating to read. Even more frustrating for her, I’m sure. I liked Temra and Petrik, who would put the feisty one and the scholar together? Yeah she was harsh but I really don’t think Temra owed anyone an apology for wanting her own life and sense of safety and she’s a wonderfully fierce character. By far my favorite.

Overall, this is a fast read with a fun plot and just barely enough world building to carry the story. It comes with an author interview at the end where Levenseller says her goal is to not bore readers with extra world content, like she writes the story then fills in the bare necessity of details.  I liked it but wanted more from both the world and the magic.

An entertaining story for sure and I’ll probably read the second one…because cliffhanger. I would recommend this as well as her other books (but not Shadows Between Us) for YA fantasy readers but honestly don’t think Levenseller works for most adult fantasy fans.

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews Science Fiction

Happy Birthday Ray Bradbury – A Sci-fi Book Tag

Hi everyone! Ray Bradbury was one of my earliest science fiction favorites and we nearly share a birthday, so I thought of using some of his book titles to form a book tag!

If anyone else decides to do this, please link back to this post so I can see it and hopefully share your answers!


The Illustrated Man – A Sci-fi character you would love to cosplay ?

Fahrenheit 451 – A sci-fi book that you think everyone should read?

A Medicine for Melancholy – your comfort read or a scifi book that made you happy?

The Martian Chronicles – Your favorite sci-fi involving first contact or aliens in general

Death Has Lost It’s Charm For Me – A Sci-fi book that makes you nostalgic

Dandelion Wine – a food or drink you were inspired to try because a character loved it

There Will Come Soft Rains – A Sci-fi that either helped you through or made you hopeful in a rough time

One Timeless Spring – A Sci-fi you wish you could read again for the first time?

Something Wicked This Way Comes – your best-loved sci-fi villain?

Bradbury Speaks – A Sci-fi Author that you would like to sit down and talk to?

Where Robot Mice & Robot Men Run Round In Robot Town – with nothing else considered, your favorite title of a sci-fi book?

From the Dust Returned – A sci-fi character you would bring back from the afterlife?

Kaleidoscope – your favorite sci-fi book that has been adapted into something else?

The Love Affair – your absolute favorite sci-fi book of all time ❤️


Share your answers, tell all your friends, I can’t wait to see if anyone does this!

Here are my answers:

The Illustrated Man – A Sci-fi character you would love to cosplay ?

My go-to is nurse Chapel since I wear her insignia and everyone “gets it” easily!

Fahrenheit 451 – A sci-fi book that you think everyone should read?

Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley

A Medicine for Melancholy – your comfort read or a scifi book that made you happy?

The third Red Rising book, Morning Star, made me happy because they had families at the end and I had the weirdest warm fuzzy sense of resolution seeing Sevro and Darrow as fathers despite all the terrible things that had happened.

Also Murderbot because f*cking Murderbot, everyone loves Murderbot and I do too

The Martian Chronicles – Your favorite sci-fi involving first contact or aliens in general

The Sirens of Titan by Vonnegut, or, since I’m trying not to say the same author twice … I really like the Marko Kloos series I’m reading called Frontlines.  Technically Ender’s Game fits here too.

Death Has Lost It’s Charm For Me – A Sci-fi book that makes you nostalgic

The Foundation series by Asimov – I have so many ancient beat up paperbacks of classic scifi books but I think my Foundation series is truly falling apart. Finally bought new editions this year 

Dandelion Wine – a food or drink you were inspired to try because a character loved it

This is stupidly classic but definitely Earl Grey tea. My parents always drank Red Rose (orange pekoe) and I wanted to try Earl Grey because, you know, Picard

There Will Come Soft Rains – A Sci-fi that either helped you through or made you hopeful in a rough time?

This is where I say The Martian Chronicles – Bradbury really helped me get my head on straight as a kid after my uncle died and I fell back into the stories of humans, humor, hope. I started watching a lot more Star Trek after that too

One Timeless Spring – A Sci-fi you wish you could read again for the first time?

Oh….. My word this is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  Neuromancer by William Gibson.  Also recently an indie author, TA Bruno really got me with his Song of Kamaria trilogy and I would love to read it for the first time again. 

Something Wicked This Way Comes – your best-loved sci-fi villains?

I always thought the Daleks in Dr Who were like, absolutely terrible, but I want to nod to a few YA sci-fi reads here too and say Marissa Meyer’s Cinder villain Queen Levana, AIDEN (“Am I Not Merciful”) from Illuminae, 

And, I’m trying not to circle back to Star Trek multiple times but I can’t not mention Gul Dukat when I think of sci-fi villains, Mark Alaimo stole every spotlight he was given 

Bradbury Speaks – A Sci-fi Author that you would like to sit down and talk to?

Not traditionally seen as sci-fi but, Kurt Vonnegut

Where Robot Mice & Robot Men Run Round In Robot Town – with nothing else considered, your favorite title of a sci-fi book?

Honestly this tag is swimming in my favorite titles, Bradbury by far had the best titles out there and I’ll die on that hill 🤣

From the Dust Returned – A sci-fi character you would bring back from the afterlife?

OY….  To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, anyone that died in that book did so horribly. I’d bring Kira back even though she’s not technically dead.

Also Worf’s first wife in the next generation, so he wouldn’t have had to marry Dax, Jadzia could have courted Bashir, who might not have been so damn dark and hopeless as a result, and everyone would be slightly better off. That would have ruined a lot of good material though //////sigh

Kaleidoscope – your favorite sci-fi book that has been adapted into something else?

…. going super basic here and saying The Martian by Andy Weir, I loved that movie

The Love Affair – your absolute favorite sci-fi book of all time ❤️

I’m hung up on this question because I have never tried to qualify my sci-fi reading before. I want to say The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton because medical hard sci-fi stuff ruins me and he was the first!