Categories
audiobooks Fantasy Historical Fiction Middle Grade

The Witches of Crannock Dale by Thomas M. Kane (Audiobook Review)

Thanks to the author for letting me listen to and review the audiobook of The Witches of Crannock Dale! I’ll also be interviewing Thomas Kane on the Sunday Brunch Series soon so keep an eye out for that 🍳🎤

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Witches of Crannock Dale
  • Series: Mara of the League #1
  • Author: Thomas M. Kane (Nar. Stevie Marie)
  • Publisher & Release: Self Published, 2019
  • Length: 288 pages (11h48m run time)
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes for middle grade fans!

Synopsis:
Spies. Witch-hunts. A little girl who asks dangerous questions.

When invaders threaten, eleven-year-old Mara must grow up fast. All her life, her homeland has been on the brink of war with the Commonwealth of Waan. But as bells warn of approaching enemies, her own realm’s knights arrest her favorite aunt for witchcraft. This prompts her to rethink much of what she has been taught about her country. When adults ignore her points, she teams up with unlikely friends in a bid to rescue her aunt and protect her village. Mara must make sense of grown-up politics if she is to save the people she loves.

This is Book One of the political fantasy series Mara of the League.

I thought that for a middle-grade, this one checks pretty much all the boxes for me.  I can’t speak for the rest of the series yet but Mara is 11 here, and the content stays 100% age audience appropriate. Although she is 17 in book two I believe it remains a middle grade age level throughout.

Mara is a very smart and brave little girl who eventually becomes a spy for her country in later books. Here in Witches we are introduced to Mara and her family and learn about the plots and political conflicts happening in the world.  Told in the first person point of view of an 11 year old, I think it’s a marvel that Kane had me interested in the imposter bandit king and how the war will eventually unfurl.

Mara is an easy character to root for as she becomes involved in local issues.  I liked her brother too and the rest of the family.

As I’m obviously not 12 anymore (🤣🤣🤣), when reviewing for middle grade, I tend to look more at whether the book is fast paced (yes), interesting (yes), repetitive (no), and age appropriate (yes). I think it will hold their attention well. It’s also extremely well edited for a self published book so that’s helpful!

Are the themes something I would want my little niece reading? Yes, absolutely. Mara has to navigate complicated adult politics while still doing what she thinks is right. She also learns  that sometimes rules do have a time and place in society, and that actions can have severe and unintended consequences.  I like the sense of responsibility she has towards family and even town & country.

The issue I had is that the audio itself did not hold my interest, likely due to the Authors Direct app and a few challenges that it presented. That was an experience related issue though and I think Stevie Marie was a pretty solid, clearly spoken narrator. I did end up reading on Kindle Unlimited though and was then lucky enough to see the map and drawings.

Overall: I’m excited to keep reading to see how Mara and the war develop.  It’s a solid middle grade read that I think YA can enjoy too since Mara ages fairly quickly in the books. Stay tuned for the author interview!

Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews Science Fiction

Sci-fi, Media, Self-Image, Romance, and Modern Day Nerds

I’ve had a couple of conversations with widely various “nerdy” men over the past few weeks that have gotten me thinking about self image, gatekeeping, romance in sci-fi media (books vs. television) and some things that are tangentially related.

Let’s start with the couple that got me thinking about the fact that there isn’t a lot of actual romance in Science Fiction reading – good old Grayson and Halley in the Frontlines (Marko Kloosseries, which I got tired of reviewing book by book but here’s the quote in book four that got me:

“I am so glad for all of this. You, me, us being here, everything that happened to us since Basic. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, Lankies and all. If we end up a frozen cloud of stardust today, I know that I’ve fucking lived.”

My favorite thing about this couple despite the fact that they started in the most eye rolling proximity romance ever, is that they never played games with each other. At least in my experience military men have the emotional competence of your average stone wall, and seeing as most military sci-fi authors are male, it would understandably make romance in this genre difficult to write.  Either way, I think Grayson and Halley are a great example of how some level of romance can work with these stories.

Let’s surf back through the canon to the beginning (ish) – Frankenstein bored me to literal miserable tears but it was, undoubtedly, a romance of a sort, although not what I’m getting at.  I haven’t read enough Victorian era “sci-fi” to comment on the romances there so let’s fast forward to elsewhere.

Another point to start with here is that even with more women writing in sci-fi these days than before, in the days where many women wrote under male pen names and tried to hide a bit, I would have expected more romance to infiltrate the genre. There is some to be found in young adult sci-fi for sure but that’s not a genre I’m too personally interested in.

That said though, men just… it’s like this with men in sci-fi: picture a treehouse with a GIRLS KEEP OUT SIGN nailed to the door?

AND WHAT DO WE GET OUT OF SCI-FI “ROMANCE” BEING A GENRE NOW? LORD HELP US, erotica haha. Oy, alien erotica is not what I’m getting at either and I’m on not on team “hubba hubba”, but team “no thanks”.

Screenshot_20220907-104854

So, we have established that no one wants to read space erotica, or heavy romance in space, but I’m more just talking about healthy relationships. Not to say that women can’t write healthy romance in sci-fi, but, they really don’t. Hello Ms. Octavia Butler, looking at YOU in the Xenogenesis books.

I’m about to embark on a read in October that basically features four dudes on a submarine, which is about where men in the 1800’s were writing sci-fi at.  Another classic sci-fi great, Bradbury, looks at relationships but it’s more in the sense of “how does this function in this society?” Does having reproductive hour at 7pm on Wednesday satisfy marital needs? Yikes, I’m not looking for that either.  He does broadly look at love and the human experience in other stories but I’m looking for specific, healthy, normal examples

Because at the end, I’m going to tie this into modern day romance

Let’s break this line off before it gets weird and touch briefly on how this isn’t necessarily the case in modern day TV and movies – at least on screen, Sci-fi is trying to normalize relationships more.  Look at The Big Bang Theory (2007) – I think a lot of nerds found pieces of themselves in Leonard and Raj, even Sheldon, and guess what? That’s modern day mainstream television featuring the nerdy guy getting the girl! Then girls for the others!

p185554_b_v10_az

I can’t talk about romance on screen either without briefing on the Treks – I read in a Rodenberry biography (no I can’t quote where) that he wanted the characters in TOS and TNG to stay single so that (to paraphrase) they can use alien relationships and pursuits as more storyline fodder, although in DS9 and onwards relationships onscreen became a lot more prominent.  To this day, Trek is working to normalize relationships between different cultures and all other kinds of kinds.

Star Wars is the other huge franchise that everyone wants to talk about – hello yes romance there too, forgetting all the brother and sister stuff but later movies? Yes! I don’t watch a lot of sci-fi on television these days but the point is, between Star Trek, Star Wars, and the Big Bang Theory, modern day nerdy men should have observed some healthy relationships onscreen at some point.

So … let me draw this back into literature before bringing it to a close with my thoughts on romance and modern day nerds.

So back at the end of August I was out with my best friend, and every year I feel like we have the same discussion. Yes, our families are fine as far as we know, yes, we are off to DragonCon soon, Yes, we’re both still single.  This year, the conversation got a little deeper after a few alcohols and I heard an echo of the lament that a lot of “modern day nerds” feel – it’s really freaking hard to relate to people sometimes and be ourselves.

Which started my thoughts in this article – what fuels the modern day nerd’s lack of confidence? Where is the obliviousness still coming from? Is it because of the lack of healthy relationships in the media that they consume? Is it that old treehouse mentality that girls have cooties? Opposite sex anxiety? Most females featured in sci-fi have killer body suits and boobs, so where are the women writers in sci-fi here, and are the men not reading it?

That said though, most of the really, really nerdy sci-fi booktubers and bloggers that I’m friends with are married with kids, so this is a very moot point for many people but there are a sect of us that are pretty single still.  I’d like to hear from people on both sides regarding this!

Let’s look at a chat I had with an author/friend the other night. To paraphrase, we were on discord discussing … uh… let’s say Twitter crushes, close enough.

Me: How dense are male nerds?

Friend: We’re dumb as hell. Not even an argument.

Me: I would argue dense, but y’all are far from dumb, haha fair enough?

Friend: Fair enough. There’s a whole lot of self-image stuff tied up in that obliviousness too, especially for nerds

That’s interesting, because although I think it was said jokingly, I had another male (probable nerd) refer to himself as “not a photogenic lot” recently and the kid is not that bad looking at all. So, anyway, that feeds back into the chat I had with my real life friend about our self image issues, inability to meet people, and lack of confidence – where is it all coming from for this little subsect of nerdism?

From a woman’s perspective, I mean do you know how many men have told me my website is stupid? My library is a waste of money? Even at work I take shit when I roll my sleeves up and be myself, and let’s not even talk about the rodeo/horse world.  I dunno what those dudes do in their down time but 95% of the time it’s not reading 😂 The last date I went on was with a self proclaimed “nerd” back in February and it was like having someone mansplain Walden to me (UM… I’m not stupid but I felt stupid) and whew I’ve been afraid to try since.  Let’s just say that in the subsect of failed dating experiences, “nerds” are up there on my list for a litany of reasons.

So …. Do we need healthy relationships in sci-fi media to help some of us along a little bit? Would it help? Is there a link between literature, onscreen media, and modern day relationships? Is it the feeling of being left behind by a rapidly changing culture?

Tell me all your thoughts, and if you read this emotional vomit, thank you 😂

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 🙃

IMG_20220904_151017324_HDR

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 

IMG_20220904_150342630_HDR

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 ❤️

IMG_20220904_150102841_HDR

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!

 

IMG_20220904_145751508_HDR

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!

IMG_20220904_145907070_HDR

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

IMG_20220904_150202263_HDR

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!

51HTzVUY1NL._AC_SY1000_

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

9222

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

download (2)

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

Screenshot_20220827-214440

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

Screenshot_20220827-220832

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!

patrick-stewart-pitbull-dog

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!