Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews

The October Book Releases Are Everything This Fall

As most of you know, I’ve spent most of the past few years requesting and reading a ton of ARCs across various genres.  I stopped doing that around March and haven’t been paying as much attention to new releases, but October is really a special month as far as some of my favorite authors are putting books out, and others look like true must reads

So let’s look at a few that I’ve either pre ordered, have an ARC, or will at least buy once they show up on Book Outlet for sure


In no specific order (after my most anticipated):

1) Righteous Prey, by John Sandford. Release 10/4

There’s a new John Sandford, and it’s a Davenport & Flowers collaboration! While my quest to reread the series from #1 failed, I am keeping up with the new releases still.  Part of me thinks Sandford should have quit while he was ahead, part of me will always preorder and drop my TBR for anything he writes. I think possibly the only thing my father and I have ever agreed on is that Sandford should have quit at Twisted Prey (a great book) and not introduced the Letty series, or any further Prey books, as there’s really nothing new he can do at this point and we don’t love reading Lucas at this life stage 🤣

2.  The Revolutionary by Stacy Schiff. Release 10/25

While I neither need to nor am particularly interested in reading another book on Sam Adams, I’m interested in the author as a decorated biographer.  I currently use the Mark Puls biography as my Adams recommendation (short, entertaining, fairly unbiased), but I’m always happy to see Revolutionary History being published anew by different voices and would check it out if I saw it at a used price.

3. The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy. Releases 10/25 but I’m waiting for the box set, linked below

Holy shit, Cormac McCarthy hasn’t written anything since he devastated and destroyed everyone with the saddest dystopian ever, The Road, like what 15 years ago? I don’t even care what it’s about and am floored to read his new book, and it’s a duology which is cool.

 

The next two books kind of go together in my mind, even though they are vastly different:

4. Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman. Release 10/18

Umm yeah just sign me up for this. One critic stated that it reads “like a conversation” and just, yeah, just, sign me up 

5. Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton. ALSO out 10/18

Here’s something you don’t know about me: Tom Felton is actually my favorite cast member of HP because he seems like a riot, supports animal rescues, reads a lot of dirty Slytherin puns, and seems like a generally upstanding individual. Plus swoony accent and generally…. You know, /swoon.  I’m not sure which book is riding which book’s coattails but putting them out together seems like a good move and I’m here for both of them

6. Night Of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra. Release 10/18

I already read and reviewed this one and generally would recommend for YA fantasy fans, it’s a lovely and rich medieval Indian setting and I’m a fan of Mehrotra as far as YA goes 

So those are the six that I’ve already read or am planning on reading this winter!  There are others too like a new John Grisham called The Boys from Biloxi, but I’m not caught up on his works and am content with my back log.  If anyone is still following Maggie Stiefvater and what I affectionately call “The Ronin books”, Greywaren is coming out too which seems to focus on the parents. There’s a new Colleen Hoover (thanks but no thanks) and just so many other new books coming out

Are you excited for any upcoming releases?

 

Categories
Science Fiction

Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang (Book Thoughts)

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Exhalation: Stories
  • Author: Ted Chiang
  • Publisher & Release: Knopf, 2019 (this edition anyway)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I finished the Exhalation collection yesterday and after browsing the top reviews on GoodReads, immediately decided that I was not smart enough to write any kind of reaction to this collection.  I actually sprung a headache trying to decipher some of these people’s essays.  Anyway, then I shook myself out of that idiotic train of thought because if a review is more complex than the original text, and it’s giving my fairly literate brain a headache, what service is it doing?

As I was dwelling on the complexity and profundity I didn’t feel, it occurred to me that I read most of this book while in a haze of exhaustion and general feelings of “f*ck me my face hurts”, but I also don’t think that affected my absorption or comprehension of the text and ideas.  So anyway, go read BlackOxford’s review if you want to feel smart, read mine if you want to feel like not a theological historian 🤣

Was I reading in a brain haze this week? Yes. Did I find any profound ideological connection to this? Not really. Did I enjoy reading it? Heck yes. Chiang has a straightforward, no nonsense writing style that is easy to read while not being overwhelming.  One can pick or choose how deeply to dive into the context of any given story. I’ll admit I’m not in the best place to emotionally connect to stories right now though, so when I revisit Chiang in the future I’ll be sure to do so in a clear mind.

As in any collection (short stories aren’t necessarily my favorite thing to read) there are some really great stories, as well as some that I didn’t connect with at all. Some ideas were interesting enough that I would put the book down and think it out a bit prior to reading the next, while some I admit my reaction to was: huh?

One thing I liked was that no matter how off track Chiang would get in the middle of a story, even if I had NO clue how he was going from point A to point C, he would wrap each story up with a powerful conclusion that let me come around and say -“OH OK yes that’s what he was getting at”! As in, he left no doubt between the conclusion and the author’s note what the takeaway idea/food for thought was intended to be.

My favorite part of the book in general was how each story had an author’s note at the end, so that the process of reading felt more like a conversation. It was interesting to hear where he got his inspiration from, what ideas were important, and he tossed in a few anecdotes too.  Any major questions I had were usually answered by the author’s note which is somewhat validating because I assumed it meant I was asking the right questions.

To talk about a few specific stories and ideas I liked –

The Lifecycle of Software Objects – I’m still just wondering what exactly that lady intended to do to that robot at the end. That said, it was a cool story (and the longest at 150 pages) because you can’t go wrong with AI and ethics and Chiang certainly didn’t.  I also liked all the platonic, unrequited, interesting character relationships that evolved as the humans and AI interacted with one another.

My favorite story to read was The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling, because I just think it’s cool to examine memory and remembrance and the written form across cultures and society. I would certainly not want to remember every detail and argument of my life, I would go absolutely insane.  It was the most relatable to me as far as the forgiving vs forgetting theme and how we piece memories together. Oh Nicole, I feel you.

In Exhalation: so this was probably the most “profound” story but I’m a critical care nurse in real life and I don’t need anyone to preach inevitability to me.  Been there, had that existential crisis already. The robot surgery was for sure an interesting idea.

So yes, yes, go examine your life and have profound thoughts, for sure, don’t let me dissuade you from writing a dissertation on this story but I’m only here to enjoy the ride.

The other story that stood out was Omphalos and the lady that had to reassess her world view regarding the existence of God as science evolved.  It was another story where I wasn’t sure what Chiang was getting at until the end and I ended up struck by the theme of finding your own peace and satisfaction in the day to day, and, I guess finding your own validation.

Overall, the best I can do is advise people to read Chiang on a fresh brain and stay open minded throughout each story, since the ending always brings the story around full circle. Don’t let a few really, really smart sounding reviews and elitists scare you away.

I would definitely recommend Chiang to hard sci-fi fans and those who like to chew on big ideas, or, those who just enjoy a good story.  There’s enough slice of life thrown in that I  think just about anyone can read these and get some enjoyment out of it.

What made me feel small today was standing under these 8+ foot fall sunflower type variants, I don’t need the graveyard of space to feel like an inevitable ant thanks 🤣

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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
Biographies, Memoirs, Nonfiction

The Greatest Knight by Thomas Asbridge (Book Thoughts)

The Greatest Knight is a wonderfully comprehensive biography of the knight William Marshal, who served the succession of Angevin kings until his death in the early 1200s

I was surprised at how many history buffs popped up on Instagram to say hi after I posted my thoughts there! I ended up with more book recommendations, chats on historical fiction books, photos of a new monument to Marshal, and some new Insta-friends.  Definitely a pleasant surprise

I loved reading the fictional account of Marshal’s life presented by Jeff Wheeler in The First Argentines series. Now I am finally reading some of the source material he recommended.

What I liked about Thomas Asbridge’s account is that he put everything into historical context for people, like me, who aren’t experts on the Angevins and Plantagenets and medieval history in general.  I know next to nothing about the Anglo-Norman conflicts and the crusades, so reading isolated accounts can be confusing.

How did medieval parents grieve? Who can urinate in a great lord’s hall? What did tournaments look like? Who crusaded against whom? All very important things to know.  Asbridge also looked critically at a lot of source material to point to what was probably embellished and probably accurate – also where the holes and gaps in knowledge are. 

One favorite theme (among many) was the evolution of the archetypal knight, the class in general, and how warfare evolved during this period!

Marshal was an incredible figure. I appreciate the fact that he was still leading and fighting in battles into his 70s (unheard of in that era, the life span was much shorter) when I have 50 year old patients who refuse to get out of bed and wipe their own butts! An amazing man, truly 

We get the conflicts and successions and battles, the tournament years, some hints at family life.  I think what surprised me most was how each Lord just wanted more land, more power, more castles, more everything, even when they could hardly handle what they already had.

Also some of the early papacy and church dictates were hilarious, like how anyone that dies in a tournament is denied a Christian burial. I didn’t realize how involved the pope was, or even that Ireland was ever an English holding.

My favorite anecdote was the story of the knight that pulled himself out of the saddle, and Marshal found himself leading just a horse at the end of his charge 🤣

In one sentence on the Wheeler books, I think he did an amazing job converting Marshal and the Angevins into a fictional series.  Wheeler took some liberties with names, places, and sequences of events, but I was surprised to recognize so many real events from his books and sometimes know what would come next.  I do truly wish that the real William Marshal had had an ugly horse, that would have been the icing on the cake

One other thing that Wheeler did well – one of my favorite scenes of the entire series and also in the Marshal biography – was the battle of Lincoln!  Woooo talk about chills.  He wasn’t using the “Dex Aie” at that point but I was happy to hear it was a real rallying cry.

Overall – The Greatest Knight is a fast paced, easy read that doesn’t even feel like nonfiction. I think this is such a fascinating time period and I have been recommended the BBC series produced by the author which I can’t wait to try to find. There are also the Elizabeth Chadwick books for more historical fiction focused on Marshal: I’d like to read that too and then compare her series with Wheeler’s!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title- The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones
  • Author: Thomas Asbridge
  • Publisher & Release: Ecco, December 2014
  • Length: 464 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨ for fans of medieval history!

Here’s the synopsis:

A thrillingly intimate portrait of one of history’s most illustrious knights – William Marshal – that vividly evokes the grandeur and barbarity of the Middle Ages

William Marshal was the true Lancelot of his era – a peerless warrior and paragon of chivalry – yet over the centuries, the spectacular story of his achievements passed from memory. Marshal became just one more name in the dusty annals of history. Then, in 1861, a young French scholar named Paul Meyer made a startling discovery during an auction of rare medieval manuscripts. Meyer stumbled upon the sole surviving copy of an unknown text – the first contemporary biography of a medieval knight, later dubbed the History of William Marshal. This richly detailed work helped to resurrect Marshal’s reputation, putting flesh onto the bones of this otherwise obscure figure, yet even today William Marshal remains largely forgotten.

As a five-year-old boy, William was sentenced to execution and led to the gallows, yet this landless younger son survived his brush with death, and went on to train as a medieval knight. Against all odds, William Marshal rose through the ranks – serving at the right hand of five English monarchs – to become a celebrated tournament champion, a baron and politician and, ultimately, regent of the realm.

Marshal befriended the great figures of his day, from Richard the Lionheart and Eleanor of Aquitaine to the infamous King John, and helped to negotiate the terms of Magna Carta – the first ‘bill of rights’. By the age of seventy, the once-forsaken child had been transformed into the most powerful man in England, yet he was forced to fight in the frontline of one final battle, striving to save the kingdom from French invasion in 1217.

In The Greatest Knight, renowned historian Thomas Asbridge draws upon the thirteenth-century biography and an array of other contemporary evidence to present a compelling account of William Marshal’s life and times. Asbridge follows Marshal on his journey from rural England onto the battlefields of France, to the desert castles of the Holy Land and the verdant shores of Ireland, charting the unparalleled rise to prominence of a man bound to a code of honour, yet driven by unquenchable ambition.

This knight’s tale lays bare the brutish realities of medieval warfare and the machinations of royal court, and draws us into the heart of a formative period of our history, when the West emerged from the Dark Ages and stood on the brink of modernity. It is the story of one remarkable man, the birth of the knightly class to which he belonged, and the forging of the English nation.

Categories
Fantasy

Silver Queendom by Dan Koboldt (ARC Review)

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the eARC of Silver Queendom via NetGalley! As always, all opinions are my own. This is a quick, fun heist book with minimal/low fantasy elements and a quintessentially snarky crew that I would definitely recommend for fans of the genre.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Silver Queendom
  • Series: n/a …. ?
  • Author: Dan Koboldt
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 08/23/22
  • Length: 400 pages
  • Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:

When you owe money to the biggest criminal in town you are going to need to step up yourthieving game a notch…

Service at the Red Rooster Inn isn’t what you’d call “good,” or even “adequate.” Darin would be the first to say so, and he owns the place. Evie isn’t much of a barmaid; Kat’s home-brewed ale seems to grow less palatable with each new batch; and Seraphina’s service at the bar leaves much to be desired. As for the bouncer, Big Tom, well, everyone learns right quick to stay on his good side.

They may be bad at running an inn, but they’re the best team of con artists in the Old Queendom. When a prospective client approaches Darin with a high-paying job, he knows he should refuse. But the job is boosting a shipment of priceless imperial dream wine, the most coveted and expensive drink in the world. And, thanks to a stretch of bad luck, he’s in deep to The Dame, who oversees criminal enterprises in this part of the Queendom.

If they fail, they’re as good as dead, but if they succeed… well, it’s enough money to get square with the Dame and make all of their dreams come true. Plus, it’s an option for Darin to stick it to the empress, who he has good reason to despise.

Then again, there’s a very good reason no one has ever stolen imperial dream wine…

I like this one as a summer read because it had continually quick pacing with shorter chapters that let me feel like I was making progress. It’s on the lighter, more humorous side and was never boring!

I liked the metallurgy talent but the author could have done a lot more with it. It seems like there are at least one or two other magical abilities in the kingdom that could have been explored too, but I think the choice was made to keep this a relatively low fantasy. The ending certainly left space for future expansion so maybe we will see more in the future.

There’s a good cast of characters with some good banter and dialogue. I liked Tom, he was the stoic warrior with a soft interior type. Darin and Evie and Kat too, each had their own struggles and we saw their strengths. They were a likeable crew and easy to root for, but something was missing to fully flesh them out.  We saw glimpses of their pasts but I think I wanted a little more there. Kat also worked her way into the crew awful quickly, although she earned her place. Their personalities were revealed throughout the book but they themselves didn’t develop. That said, they worked together well and pulled off an amazing heist.

There was not one single character that I disliked, and the side characters did a lot for this one too. Lots of little surprises throughout the book with side characters!

The world build gave me enough to know what was going on.  On a micro level I liked how some cultural tidbits were thrown in like the red foaming mouths of the mercenary horses, the ale making, courier custom, old coins, definitely the rotating market, etc. Little things to make the world seem more real.

I also feel dumb but I don’t actually understand why the client wanted to have the wine stolen 😳, although the resolution was still satisfactory, and that is probably entirely on me, I just didn’t see what the point of it was.

I hope there’s a sequel so we can see the crew in action again!

Overall – it’s a fun, entertaining heist fantasy that I would definitely recommend. It stopped short of 5 stars but I fully enjoyed the book!

Categories
audiobooks Fiction Paranormal

Elevation (+ Laurie) by Stephen King – Book & Audio Thoughts

I needed a Novella for the SFF Oasis book bingo this month and listened to Elevation (and Laurie) written and narrated by Stephen King!

I don’t want to spend too much time talking about these novellas so here is a pair of mini reviews:

Elevation 🌲🌲🌲

I thought this novella was kind of ridiculous. It had an interesting premise but was more about the town of Castle Rock getting woke than the sci-fi element, which was never explored or explained at all.  I liked the characters, character development, and storyline well enough.

What lacked was that I expected King to explore the gravity loss idea and sci-fi element a lot more than he did. As he did not, I found the whole thing lacking. I won’t spoil the ending but found it, just, utterly stupid.  Ok, bye Scott

Laurie 🐶🐶🐶🐶🐶

This seems very un-King-like but I loved Laurie! A man who lost his wife is being nagged by his sister, who brings a puppy to his house. Obviously he gripes and complains and the puppy going to pee on the rug and he hates her, etc etc, but then all cuteness ensues. There’s even a thrilling event at the end.

I need more animal cuteness from King, who usually makes his animals terrifying

He is a pretty good narrator too, he should read more of his own books!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Elevation
  • Author: Stephen King
  • Publisher & Release: Scribner, October 2018
  • Length: 160 pages
  • See ratings above

A quick note on the audio: about 3:46 long from Simon & Schuster audio, released at the above date and narrated by the author

Here’s the synopsis:

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face—including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

Categories
Fiction Mysteries

The Lost by Jeffrey B. Burton (Book Review)

Thank you endlessly to Minotaur Books for sending over another great read this spring!  I feel terrible because it came out back at the end of June. The book was received in exchange for an honest review and as always, all opinions are my own!

When I finally got into my lovely finished copy of The Lost, I found it to be a quick, engaging K9 mystery with some thrilling aspects as well. This is #3 in the series but totally reads as a standalone. 

The K9 mystery genre is one that I’ve really been getting into with the Search and Rescue books, Rookie K9 unit, and anything by David Rosenfelt, so if you like lighter, funnier mysteries and K9 detectives definitely check this one out!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Lost
  • Series: Mace Reid K9 Mystery, #3
  • Author: Jeffrey B Burton
  • Publisher & Release: Minotaur Books, June 2922
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for a quick and fun mystery read

Synopsis:

The Lost is the next mystery from author Jeffrey B. Burton starring an extraordinary cadaver dog and her handler.

Glencoe, Illinois: A home invasion turned kidnapping at the mansion of billionaire financier Kenneth J. Druckman brings Mason “Mace” Reid and his cadaver dog, Vira, to this wealthy northern suburb of Chicago. Druckman was assaulted, left behind while his wife and young daughter were taken for ransom.

Brought to the scene by the FBI, Reid specializes in human remains detection, and Vira is the star of his pack of cadaver dogs he’s dubbed The Finders. After Vira finds the dead body of the mother, former supermodel Calley Kurtz, everyone is on high alert to find Druckman’s missing daughter before the five-year-old disappears forever. But the trail Vira finds on the property’s dense woodlands leads right back to Druckman himself.

With the help of Detective Kippy Gimm, Reid and Vira must race against the clock. Nothing is as it appears to be . . . and the red herrings could be lethal.

First off, I definitely liked this one as a standalone.  I had no trouble meeting the characters and understanding what was happening, although I am definitely 100% adding the first two books to my TBR to meet the dogs more in depth.

This is a relatively short mystery with shorter chapters too so it’s a very quick read, perfect for the summer!

The characters are funny and kind but also talented as heck.  I liked seeing a lot of Vira the golden retriever’s tricks and abilities, especially her capacity to recognize feelings and stand in as a therapy dog.  Then she can turn around, find a body, nail a bad guy – Vira is an all around pro.  I would have liked to see more of the actual dog training though I imagine it featured in prior books.

There’s plenty of action too. The plot is decent, it’s a little heavier than the average mystery and while it is labelled as a “cozy animal mystery” on Amazon, I didn’t recognize the cozy element as much.  Mace is an amateur sleuth but his dogs know their business, and he was extremely observant.  His cop girlfriend/partner did good work too and seems kind & intelligent as well as bad ass.

Where the book lost a star with me was the format of the reveal – like the book started with an unknown bad guy, then the plot and mystery developed – right in the middle, the answer was revealed – then the last half dropped the mystery and turned into a thriller, featuring the characters trying to locate a kidnapping victim and dodge various curve balls including the Russian Mafia and a crazy rich person.

My only gripe is that giving the answer away in the middle took a bit out of the second half for me since I was expecting red herrings and mystery and had to adjust my expectations. I also wish the events at the start of the book tied into the rest a little more, finding some resolution for that crime. Maybe the next book?

Overall – I liked this one. It was thrilling, interesting, funny at times, and the dogs were great. Everything that a K9 detective mystery should be!

 

Categories
Science Fiction

Book Tour & Giveaway: At the Threshold of the Universe by T.A. Bruno

Thank you endlessly to T.A. Bruno for the beautiful hardcover of At the Threshold of the Universe! Do ya all see the 4th quote down🤪

I’m so glad that Escapist Tours picked up the tour for the end of the trilogy.  I’m a huge fan of the series and it came to a whopping conclusion. Bruno not only wrapped up the storylines but created this amazingly intense backstory for the events leading up to the start of the first novel and eventual fall of the solar system.  There is a proper balance of nostalgia and forward motion to tie everything together and bring The Song of Kamaria to an epic conclusion!

You can find the giveaway and other info below.  I also linked to the Sunday Brunch Series feature that we did before if anyone wants to further “meet the author”!

Cover

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: At the Threshold of the Universe
  • Series: The Son of Kamaria, #3
  • Author: T.A. Bruno
  • Publisher & Release: Self Published, May 2022
  • Length: 496 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨yes 100% recommend to SFF readers or anyone looking for an adventure

Here’s the Synopsis:

ALL SONGS END.

War ravages Kamaria as an old enemy resurfaces from the depths of the ocean. Offering no support in the coming battles, the Auk’nai isolate themselves in their tightly guarded Nest. Outgunned and outmatched, humanity once again trembles on the edge of obliteration.

The Castus family is torn apart. Denton fights on the front lines, hoping to free Cade from a nightmarish foe. Meanwhile, Eliana and Nella set out on a path that will change everything they understand about the Sirens. The Song will end, but who will remain to hear its final verse?

I didn’t think he would take it easy on the characters but was not ready for how perfectly devastating this book would be.  The depth of suffering in the final battle for humanity … Was actually probably appropriate, I wouldn’t have loved the book if he had done anything less.

I liked how I pretty much spent the entire book chewing my nails for the characters. Extinction was a very plausible conclusion as things got bleaker and bleaker for the remaining humans – and I didn’t let my figurative breath out until it was over.

That said – you guys already know that these scenes play out like a movie.  Everything is laid out for the imagination and the authors experience in cinema and visual storytelling is apparent as war rages between moments of quiet in Kamaria’s magical settings.  It reads like scifi on a fantasy planet and it works here.

The backstory was my favorite part.  Cade is able to learn the history of the Undriel through the eyes of the leader and generals and now we finally know how the machines began and why they pushed humanity out of the solar system. There are some curve balls to keep it interesting and at no point does he drop the general feeling and tone of the rest of the book.

Nella separately learns the history of the Sirens and I’ll admit that this part went a bit over my head with the timelines and tasks. It had its moments though and hey, now we know. 

We also get many memorable quotes as things go to hell for Denton and the Marines.  Combs said this in one of the last quiet moments of the story and it merits repeating:

I had that pegged as one of the flagship passages of the book and it was an accurate guess!

Many characters in the series are memorable in both life and death.  In war some deaths are heroic and others are utterly pointless. I did like how that was reflected, as well as how the memories are carried forward.

In all honestly I did dock half a star for … This is painful but the editing wasn’t quite there in this one.  The first two books were nearly flawlessly edited and this one is just not up to par. It’s a personal preference and typos throw me out of immersion like nothing else, although the rest of the books presentation is stellar

The section and chapter artwork is another extra touch that makes this feel like a classic scifi read.

Overall …. I mean this is one of my favorite independently published series out there and I think he did the conclusion full justice.  It’s action packed, cinematic, in the feels, epic in scope, and you just want to shield the entire human race from any further harm.  I think giving Talulo the last word of the Song and Cade the epilogue was a good touch too, we can’t forget how much the Auk’nai also lost. 

100% no hesitation to recommend this series to anyone! Thank you again to Escapist Book Tours and the author for having me on the tour!


Alright now that I’ve hopefully gotten everyone interested in the series (p.s. In The Orbit of Sirens is an SPSFC finalist)!  Here is the giveaway:

At the Threshold of the Universe giveaway

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/79e197ac30/ enter here, open now and ends 6/22!

Book Links:

Amazon Series Page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09B4YVKGT
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60484283-at-the-threshold-of-the-universe

Meet the author!

T. A. Bruno grew up in a suburb south of Chicago and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the film industry. Since then, he has brought stories to life for over a decade as a previsualization artist. At home, he is the proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife.

Author Website: TABruno.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TABrunoAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TABrunoAuthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TABrunoAuthor

There’s also the Sunday Brunch Series interview to check out for more info! https://onereadingnurse.com/2021/08/22/sunday-brunch-author-interview-series-featuring-t-a-bruno/

Categories
Fantasy General Posts, Non Reviews

The Summer Tree Week 4 Readalong & Wrap up!

Yayyy we did it, this is the finish line! The week four questions are hosted by Bookforager over at https://bookforager.wordpress.com/ , who has my favorite website layout ever, it’s so easy to find things!

Anyway! I have so many thoughts on the ending and the book in general.  It was awesome to read along with such an awesome group of bloggers too. I learned a lot about the fantasy genre in general from reading everyone else’s thoughts and am super glad to have been able to participate!


1. Paul is now the Lord of the Summer Tree. What do you think this means/ will mean?

I think it means I’m an idiot for thinking he would end up dead and buried after the three days! I have NO IDEA what this means.  My best guess is that he is some kind of Avatar for Mörnir and was either granted special knowledge or will otherwise be afforded some respect by the court if nothing else

2. Each of our grad students has found a role to play in Fionavar, most questionably Jennifer. She asks herself “what was her sin, what had she done” to deserve the terrible TERRIBLE punishment she receives at the hands of Maugrim and his creatures. What are your thoughts and feelings on Jennifer’s plight, and how have you made sense of it within the scope of the story so far?

Yeah like WTF, are they all just going to teleport back to Toronto after this? That *WAS* the ending, no?  I am going to be that person and say that overall, GGK isolated my feelings about the characters by making them all caricatures.  Aileron – the most valiant prince. Diarmuid – the biggest scoundrel.  Maugrim – omg most evil dude ever right down to the burning eyes and hooded face.

What happened to Jen? Honestly I just figured GGK was continuing to go for “the WORST THING EVER” and he concocted something that would even have George RR Martin golf clapping.

In the greater context beyond shock value, I would be a little annoyed by Silvercloak if he had forseen that and was alluding to it when he first met Jen

3. What did you make of the many events in the throne room, from the assassination attempt to the showdown for the crown?

This felt like a stage drama to me! I think it was probably one of Diarmuid’s most serious lines in the entire book, when he acknowledged that both were trying, or at least willing, to assassinate him.  I am not sure how he ended up yielding the crown so easily either, I wanted a lot more prince vs prince drama.

I was also surprised that the Black Rose (or whatever she went by) was interested in potentially murdering him.  I would have thought she would be gunning for marriage or another political alliance, not sneaking in. DID SHE FORGET THAT IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO?  He acknowledged that “plucking a flower” was probably in poor taste, but at the same time, IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO

4. There’s been a surfeit of signs, a plethora of portents in this week’s reading. Now is the time to air your opinions on such things as flying unicorns, getting lost in the woods, the Cave of the Sleepers, magical Horns and unearthed Cauldrons

This is probably my most serious conversation topic – I think it’s a good example of some things that GGK did really well, and some that he did really badly.  The cauldron, for example, made me realize that there’s more than one super evil destroyer of things with more than one goal here.  That whole story line needed more to flesh itself out but I’m sure we will be revisiting it later on.

Which horn came first, RJ or GGK?  I like magical horns.  Kristin Britain did one too.   TOP 5 MAGICAL HORNS, THERE’S ANOTHER ONE!

I think you can never go wrong with a flying unicorn, I absolutely adore pegasus and unicorns and any other kind of sentient equine whatsoever.  I do feel a post coming on my TOP 5 SENTIENT EQUINES IN FANTASY! The last one mentioned – being lost in the woods – I think that was one of the most magical scenes and I was so worried for the boys! Those woods had a mind of their own and truly it was a good thing that the powers that be were eventually distracted by Paul

5. The Dwarves did it, in the darkness, with the Cauldron of Khath Meigol! What do you make of this last-minute revelation? And care to make any predictions on future developments?

Well …. we finally got Matt’s story. I was hoping for Matt’s real name, because there’s no way it’s Matt. I loved the bit of dwarf lore but it seems like he will have to go back, maybe with Silvercloak, and right some past wrongs.

Seriously though just when you thought the court couldn’t get any more dramatic…

6. Finally, reaction shots on Maugrim the Unraveller – go!

I was picturing Skeletor from He-Man, honestly, and laughing.  Like animate the eyes red and go. I know I know I know I’m terrible but I literally had this entire book playing out in my head as a He-Man style animated cartoon and I just thought it was funny, that’s the best I can do for you guys

Overall – I swear I’m not trying to undermine anyone’s true and undying love for this book but while entertained and fascinated, I didn’t take the story itself very seriously.  I enjoyed the themes and applying them to a broader context within fantasy literature more than the story itself

What I really want to see though is how GGK grows and moves on from the first book – did he hear criticism about the characters and flesh them out more? Do we see how they were affected by events back in Toronto and they return to Fionavar for round two because – hey, your destiny is calling about it’s extended warranty?

I can’t wait to find out!

Categories
audiobooks Fantasy

Prism Cloud by Jeff Wheeler (Book Thoughts)

I binge finished the Harbinger series last week and have just not had time to sit down and write about it. I want to wrap up my thoughts on these books before starting my Malazan talks! Reviews for the prior books in the series are linked at the end.

Let’s jump into it!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Prism Cloud
  • Series: Harbinger #4
  • Author: Jeff Wheeler
  • Publisher & Release: 47 North, March 2019
  • Length: 348 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡

*The book currently has a 4.42 rating on GoodReads, so the majority of his fans are onboard with the series*

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

Friendship is strained to its breaking point in Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jeff Wheeler’s fourth Harbinger novel.

When the emperor is assassinated, Sera Fitzempress is the noble most eligible to inherit the empire. Her upcoming marriage to the prince would cement her position. And as a champion for peace, Sera is the only promise of hope for staving off war between the worlds of Kingfountain and Muirwood. But standing between her and her enemies is just one devastating secret.

Sera’s best friend, Cettie, a girl born of a lower class, has made a shattering discovery: her entire existence has been a lie. Now Cettie must give up the only life she’s known and fought for and leave behind the man she loves to stop Sera’s wedding. For this discovery could bring the whole of Kingfountain to ruin.

As Cettie struggles to determine her true loyalties and loves, her allies fall to wicked plots, and she becomes increasingly alone on her journey to a destiny she never wanted—one that could ignite an unstoppable war.

Oh geez, where to start with this one. Cettie almost ruined the book for me. Prism Cloud was the best of them as far as plot, action, and intrigue, even the other characters shined, but Cettie was absolutely terrible.

Sera once again was the superstar of this novel.  She broke out of her prison in Pavenham Sky transformed into a much more patient and focused woman and was able to make amazing things happen in both Empires. Trevon and Durrant were superstars too both in their own ways.

There was a touch of romance, absolutely lovely (and then heartbreaking) to see Sera and Trevon actually falling for each other after so many differences. One of my favorite aspects was how they discovered that Muirwood’s Medium and Kingfountain’s Fountain Magic were so similar

Another thing I respect Wheeler for is not being afraid to kill off one, two, or six of our favorite characters. The beginning and end of the book both featured terrible murders and just, wow.  The Adam and Fitzroy scene at the end was unbelievably sad.

The other main plot line besides the ill-fated Kingfountain wedding was that Corinne finally outmaneuvered Cettie, who had a crisis of faith and totally succumbed to it. All the scheming and intrigue was finally revealed and yes, it went deep, but Cettie turned into a snivelling moron. It was so uncharacteristic and bad that reading her chapters was painful. I could not believe her arc went downhill so quickly – it was like Wheeler wanted to rehash Maia’s storyline (see next book) but honestly I would have rather seen Cettie fighting for Sera. Cettie knows what found family is and was willing to throw it all away so quickly, knowing that her deceiver was the worst of everyone!? It was just SO bad, it didn’t ring true at all.

And of course – she got kidnapped.  I’ll talk about it more during Broken Veil but it really kills me that Wheeler’s MoA for this series is to alternately diminish each character while the other shines, like, how many times can you use kidnapping as a plot device in one series?

The rest of the plot and action held the faults at bay for the most part but I think Wheeler could have done better overall

My favorite part was 100% at Kingfountain, and everything involving Sera.  Watching her maneuver against Montpensier and finally unravelling the entire political plot was by far the high point of the story.  As was Sera and Adam’s escape after the terrible events that occurred.  I also will talk about Adam more in the next book’s review but his bravery was stunning.

While the other characters and the action would have made this the best read of the series, Cettie dragged the book down. I’m coming in at a strong 3.5 with this one but by no means dislike the book or series at all.

Once again if anyone likes audio, Kate Rudd is amazing.  She is clear and coherent and does great voices.

The Harbinger Series: