Categories
audiobooks Science Fiction

Wistful Ascending (Audiobook Review) by JCM Berne

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

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


Bookish Quick Facts:

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

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

Here’s the synopsis:

A superhero space opera for grownups.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Categories
Mysteries Suspense

Misfire by Tammy Euliano

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

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

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


Bookish Quick Facts:

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

Here’s the synopsis:

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Fantasy

Travels in the Dark by Jordan Loyal Short (Book Review)

Happy weekend everyone, hopefully you’ve all got some good reading time planned!

It’s hard to talk about book three in a series without giving anything away, so I just want to make a few general comments about the conclusion of The Dreadbound Ode trilogy.

The Skald’s Black Verse was decent, I loved The Weeping Sigil, and found Travels in the Dark to be the weakest of the three but still a great read and satisfying conclusion.


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Travels in the Dark
  • Series: The Dreadbound Ode #3
  • Author: Jordan Loyal Short
  • Publisher & Release: Self Published, March 2022
  • Length: 342 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ yes for dark fantasy fans!

Here’s the synopsis from GoodReads:

Lyssa is going to the Dead Place and everyone she killed will be waiting.

As the Hidden One’s twisted plan to resurrect the Deep Gods unfolds, the only way to stop him is a secret buried in the land of death.

But Lyssa has not given up. If the Deep Gods can return, so can she.

Can Lyssa find a way back? Can she delve into hell’s darkest corners and emerge with the lore to stop the Deep Gods’ rise? Or will she become a lost soul, like so many of those she loved in life?

Ancient horrors will wake. Skalds will sing. And a blind seer will see the shadows gather.

Lyssa Pedersten has tasted poison, and hell had best beware.


Whew… Overall this series was very, very good.  It’s rare for me to sit down and binge a series like this but it was hard not to know what happens next. If you TL:DR this review, just know that I recommend it for dark fantasy fans that like equal parts character and action driven content with tons of world building.

Brohr, aka mister “this dark and no darker”, is trying to figure out how far into the void of corruption he is willing to go. Can he regain his own agency? He is willing to travel to Hell, the outer void, or straight into a clash of monsters to get Lyssa’s soul back.  That’s great for Lyssa because fuck being dead, she’s not done with life and has a long road through the underworld to travel.  Then you have Henrik who is balancing by the hair of his little toe over a pit of political vipers while witnessing the aforementioned clash of gods. I think, for all that I didn’t like Henrik at first, that he ended up being my favorite character.  All three have pretty amazing arcs.

Each characters storyline will break your heart in this book as they finally come to their fates.

The mood and setting just keep getting darker.  Lyssa’s trip through The Dead Place was probably my favorite part even if I never cared for her as a character.  The terrors and obstacles she navigated were cool, sad, and added a lot to the world building.  Talk about letting hell loose 😅

Is it bad that my favorite character was a talking severed head, and a minor side character in the form of an 8 year old girl?  This, if nothing else, to me showed that everyone retains a choice despite their situation.

A smile found its way to his lips, despite everything, as he spied Greta bobbing down the hallway with Sascha’s head tucked under her arm.

The world building continues to grow too and once again, only adds to the story.  There’s more lore, we see The Dead Place, encounter more magic, and see all the terrible choices that people end up making as the end of the world closes in. Ooh I loved seeing how these people grew and adapted to overcoming challenges, and seeing who still had hope at the end.

That all said, this was the hardest for me to read. Compared to the first two books, the ebook was challenged with editing and formatting (KU version) where the other two were near flawless.  I also had some minor questions at the end. Then there were just silly things like ok if this creature is totally alien, it probably doesn’t have human arms and legs (even if there are hundreds of them) …. It was just overall harder for me to get through, was a tad repetitive for it’s length, and really needed a final proofread.  Don’t let that deter you though please!

Don’t get me wrong, I love this series and recommend it fully for dark fantasy fans. It’s both character and action driven, full of lore and world building, and wrecked me a little bit. Overall the series gets a strong ⭐⭐⭐⭐ from me and I can’t wait to see what he does next!

Categories
Fantasy Romance Young Adult

Lakesedge By Lyndall Clipstone (Finished Copy Review)

Thanks to Bookish First and the publisher, I was able to grab a finished paperback of Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone. I keep saying I’ve broken up with YA, but when a free finished copy of a Gothic sounding fantasy with a pretty cover is offered, it’s hard to say no….


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Lakesedge
  • Series: The World at Lakes Edge #1
  • Author: Lyndall Clipstone
  • Publisher & Release: Square Fish, 08/22 (paperback release with excerpt and bonus content) – original 2021 thru Henry Holt & CO BYR
  • Length: 416 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐ for older YA or even new adult aged readers 

Here’s the synopsis:

A lush, gothic fantasy from debut author Lyndall Clipstone about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.

When Violeta Graceling and her younger brother Arien arrive at the haunted Lakesedge estate, they expect to find a monster. Leta knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn… Now, to save Rowan―and herself―Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.


My Thoughts:

First off I will say that my favorite thing about this edition is probably the art – cover, interior, very pretty.  There’s also bonus content including an interview and annotated pages in this paperback edition which is always fun.

To generally look at Lakesedge as a Young Adult book: it’s ok, and I think teens will enjoy it more than myself as an adult reader.  Shoot me though but I’m sticking to my sexual content objection for the advertised age range.  they could have done worse, but I don’t think characters going from first kiss to pooling desire in a matter of seconds is something 14 year olds need to read 🙄 I’m going to keep saying it because I know I have parents and at least one teen who come here for clean YA recommendations, and I value you guys!

Ok, ok, anyway, off my soap box, let’s talk about the book

For my own personal enjoyment as an adult reader, I actually did like the setting and atmosphere.  The big house at Lakesedge and the gardens were moody and dark and made for a great spooky season read.  The scary parts weren’t too scary and all together the monsters, shadows, corruption, and darkness in all it’s forms contrasted nicely with the cottagecore personalities of some of the characters. 

I liked Clover and Florence, Arien too, the side characters were great.

While there is a lot to like in the book, the two main characters both drove me nuts. They had huge saviour complexes and Violeta and Rowan both ended up annoying me almost immediately. Yes yes everyone is very brave and utterly ridiculous and no one else can save the day because, saviour complex! Part of me does get it and I think that teen readers will have a better time with the storyline.  Their annoyance and relationship gave me major Sorcery of Thorns deja vu too.  I’m not shipping it at all, my mind went straight to the Hades and Persephone theme.

Favorite character? Hands down the Lord Under and I wanted more from him and more about him.

Another fault of many YA books, this one included, is that there’s a ton of very repetitive inner monologue and I just get so bored reading it. Violeta spends sooo much time thinking the same things over and over. Is he a boy or a swamp monster? No one else can protect these people! Gosh! It was also hard to read about her memories surfacing because honestly, it’s first person point of view, she wouldn’t just randomly remember the biggest events of her life.  It’s more like she would have chosen to talk about them when she did, but presenting it as random flashback memories was an odd choice.

To end on a good note: the magic is kind of cool, there’s a light and a dark and it certainly takes its toll on the user.  I think it needed a little more background as far as how the magic came to be and maybe an appearance from The Lady, but, I didn’t hate it. Speaking of Hades and Persephone, I hope the entire second book focuses on the world under because that is a potentially cool storyline taking place in an oddly comforting setting of moths and soul trees.

Overall I think this one has an audience in new adult fantasy romance fans. It’s moody and a bit Gothic and I wanted more in some parts and less in others. The setting and atmosphere were the high points for sure. As a YA book I give it three stars, and as an adult reader I’m kind of in that zone too but am a much bigger fan of Novik’s fairy tale-ish monsters


Thanks for checking out my book review of Lakesedge – I claimed a free copy using my accumulated points and am leaving a review voluntarily, all opinions are my own 

Categories
audiobooks Science Fiction

Armada by Ernest Cline (Audiobook Thoughts) ~ Or, does anyone care about Wil Wheaton anymore?

Synopsis & book facts can be found at the end, I just decided to rant and joke around in uninterrupted peace

I’m going to have a hard time writing out a whole review of this book.  It’s literally The Last Starfighter’s plot having a baby with Enders Game, re written with one idea from every science fiction game, tv show, movie, and adjacent pop culture item out there, shoved into one book. It’s like item -> location -> item -> location, ad infinitum. Everything from HG Wells to Team America to Tron.

OH IT FUNCTIONS LIKE THE DEATH STAR -YOU KNOW, FROM STAR WARS!

Ok. Great

Everything was a thing from something else. While this did feed into the plot and make sense at the end, I found that it got boring real quick.  It didn’t help that both the start and ending were weak either.  I love a good pop culture reference as much as the next person but how much can you really take from everywhere else and then slap the actual most half-assed ending ever on it? 

Well friends, read the book and find out.

Or don’t. I had content issues with it too for a YA book but I know I’m on a losing battle with that one, let’s just say the defending generals spent too much pre invasion time mixing business with pleasure 🙄 . Actually I’m not even sure if it’s a YA or not, but Zack is in high school so I assumed so.

Anyway, maybe don’t do what I did. Don’t listen to the audio.  I never particularly had strong feelings one way or the other about Wil Wheaton but his voice irked me for some reason. I can’t take him seriously and I think it rubbed off on my feelings on the book, which by no means is meant to be taken seriously either.  It’s just a big geeky parade of everything.

I actually picked the book up because I was curious as to Wheaton’s narration skills.  Plus what’s he even been doing these days besides raising kids, podcasting, playing games, and narrating a few Ernest Cline books? Who knows.

I can’t really dislike the guy because Sheldon (Big Bang Theory) made him a hilarious long running joke on the show.  I can’t really dislike him because TNG gave him a stupid ending either.  I just, I don’t know, let me pose it to any audience members here:

Does anyone actually care about Wil Wheaton anymore? Did you guys ever have  feelings about him one way or another?


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Armada
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Ernest Cline
  • Publisher & Release: Ballantine Books, 2015
  • Length: 384 Pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐✨ sorry not sorry hahah but if you really love sci-fi pop culture and young adult books maybe try this one

Quick note on the audio: obv narrated by Wil Wheaton, I didn’t love it.  Whether he was hollering or sad or just talking, I just didn’t enjoy this book at all.  It’s 11:50 long from Random House Audio

Here’s the synopsis:

Zack Lightman has never much cared for reality. He vastly prefers the countless science-fiction movies, books, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. And too often, he catches himself wishing that some fantastic, impossible, world-altering event could arrive to whisk him off on a grand spacefaring adventure.

So when he sees the flying saucer, he’s sure his years of escapism have finally tipped over into madness.

Especially because the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of his favorite videogame, a flight simulator callled Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting Earth from alien invaders.

As impossible as it seems, what Zack’s seeing is all too real. And it’s just the first in a blur of revlations that will force him to question everything he thought he knew about Earth’s history, its future, even his own life–and to play the hero for real, with humanity’s life in the balance.

But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking: Doesn’t something about this scenario feel a little bit like . . .  well . . . fiction?

At once reinventing and paying homage to science-fiction classics, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a coming-of-age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before

Categories
Suspense Thrillers

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris (ARC Review)

Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for the eARC of The Prisoner! I will always covet the chance to read an upcoming B.A. Paris book, especially when it follows something strong like last year’s release, The Therapist.

Unfortunately, The Prisoner mostly missed the mark for me and I don’t find it to be one of her stronger books.


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Prisoner
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: B.A. Paris
  • Publisher & Release: St Martin’s Press, 11/01/22
  • Length: 304 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐ (Sorry – yes to fans of the author & genre though)

Here’s the synopsis:

With Behind Closed Doors, New York Times bestselling author B. A. Paris took the psychological thriller to shocking new heights. Now she’ll hold you captive with THE PRISONER―a stunning new thriller about one woman wed into a family with deadly intentions.

Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a life for herself, she is swept up into a glamorous lifestyle where she married the handsome billionaire Ned Hawthorne.

But then, Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?


My thoughts:

The plot itself sounds interesting enough, a husband and wife are kidnapped and we have to learn why, then how it unfurls, and then what happens afterward.  I’m always down for a psychological or domestic thriller with these plots.

The issue is that in order for these kinds of books to be interesting or terrifying, they have to be if not real, at least believable. Even the believable parts in this one weren’t believable. Those older women wouldn’t just invite 18 year old Amelie into their lives so quickly, and Ned doing the things that Ned does, even the twists at the end involving Amelie’s money, none of it really worked for me.  It just all felt very cartoon like and more eye rolls happened than they should have.

And the end didn’t work – yeah yeah yeah Amelie wants to straightaway get involved with another very dangerous accessory to murder No. It was just too easy to wrap everything up with that super long conversation at the end.

Also the entire book was repetitive.  It had short chapters that are good for flipping pages quickly, but for something so short it seems like it should have moved forward more than sideways sometimes. The other issue is that unless we were told, it was hard to keep track of how much time was passing overall.  Four years from start to finish, how did that even happen? I think dates would have helped this one a lot for the segments taking place in the past.

 I finished the book rather quickly despite everything, so that’s something. For the four Paris novels I’ve read now: I loved Behind Closed Doors, liked The Therapist, kind of sort of tolerated Bring Me Back, but The Prisoner to me is the worst of the bunch. Sorry, I just know BA Paris can do better!

Thanks for checking out my book review of The Prisoner! As always, I endlessly thank St. Martin’s Press for being a wonderful partner and providing me with so many amazing free books to review! All honest opinions are my own

Categories
Fantasy

The Sword of Mercy and Wrath by N.C. Koussis

It’s nearly the end of GrimDarkTober and I want to talk about the last book I finished this month!  The Sword of Mercy and Wrath is a dark fantasy book with werewolves, their hunters, a twisted trope of adopted sibling rivalry, set in a world of territory conflict and war.


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Sword of Mercy and Wrath
  • Series: The Swords of Dominion, #1
  • Author: N.C. Koussis
  • Publisher & Release: Self, September 2022
  • Length: 267 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ for fans of  dark fantasy and action

***See note on the synopsis at the end


This is an exceptionally addictive read.  For such a short novel, N.C. Koussis packs nonstop action and character development from start to finish to create a fast paced read that is hard to put down.

The two main points of view are Tristain, off to war as a knight’s squire in hopes of making a name for himself and getting his adopted sister and mother away from their abusive father back home.  The other is Selene, the sister, attacked by a werewolf and in turn sets off with a dashing inquisitor to become a hunter of those monsters.

I think the Selene character stole the spotlight from Tristain and ran with it.  I enjoyed both viewpoints but her character arc was the best part of the book for me.  An interesting look at how grief and revenge can cause a loss of identity as Selene shucks off her last to become a remorseless werewolf hunter for the religious order.  The training was brutal and dark and everything I’d expect from an order that targets those with hurt in their heart and no where else to turn.  Then the question becomes – can Selene find herself again?

Tristain took a bit of a different arc and showed us the life of the army, the depths of betrayal in the novel, and that monsters can take many shapes and forms.

I liked how both characters, and most of the side characters, were in the moral grayzone.  They had faults, they were ravaged from war and hardship and grieving, making mistakes and learning from them.  The book was pretty dark though the middle to end but managed to keep up a thread of hope that I don’t see in a lot of Grimdark anymore. The end was… Uh… Well, I’d like a sequel, let’s put it that way.  (My heart didn’t need a hug at all before the epilogue).

While I did truly enjoy the book, the action, the battles, the military strategy, the violence that all makes up a solid dark fantasy, one can guess by the length that there might not have been a ton of world building.  I am a world building fanatic and (while I 100% recommend the book for fans of fast paced action packed reads), I really wanted some more background and development for the world, the characters, the political conflicts, maybe some more history, just those little things that flesh out fantasy worlds.  I know that’s not necessity what the author set out to do but I think it would have helped without slowing things down too much.

That said though, the action and moral conflicts and characters more than carried this book! I am now patiently waiting for the next installment👻

I didn’t include a synopsis because I think it reflects an earlier version of the text that isn’t quite accurate.

Categories
Fantasy

Jamedi @ Vueltas Reviews ‘The Worthy’ by Anna K. Moss (A GrimDarkTober Guest Post)

Surprise surprise, I am lucky enough today to present one last GrimDarkTober guest post for you all!  There’s always that one person who waits til the final moment before sending something awesome over 🤣

Anyway, Jamedi @ Vueltas is a SFF blogger who turns out an incredible amount of review and interview content.  Everyone should check out his links below, and for now, his review of a dark fantasy called The Worthy by Anna K. Moss!


Book Information:

Title: The Worthy

Genre: Dark Fantasy / Grimdark

Pages: 432

Intended Age Group: Adult

Published: August 15th, 2022

Publisher: Self-published

Heres the Synopsis:

Blood is thicker than water.

Tell that to Prince Barsten, betrayed and abandoned on foreign soil. His sister is intent on claiming the throne and he’s intent on stealing it back. One of them might succeed, if it weren’t for a sacred creature infecting people with its emotions. Rage, fear, paranoia, despair. As their country collapses, the royal siblings must stay true to themselves or find out just how thick their blood really is.

Moss’s compelling debut novel dives into a desperate kingdom, full of intrigue, treachery and sapphic-longing. Fast-paced and awash with sinful characters and fetid settings, The Worthy is a must-read for all lovers of dark fantasy.


The Review

Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4 out of 5 stars)

The Worthy is the debut novel from the British author Anna K. Moss. As a big fan of the grimdark genre, reading it was a no brain, and I have 0 regrets about it because I felt constantly the same vibes as when I’m enjoying some of Abercrombie’s works, the same level of brutality, the morally grey characters, and those situations that make you feel uncomfortable; in definitive, what separates grimdark from dark fantasy in my opinion.

We are going to be mainly following two POVs, Ailith and Barsten, daughter and son of the king of Crell, both trying to make merits to ascend to the throne. Let’s start with Barsten, because his condition as the prince of Crell, and his struggles to make himself worthy in the eyes of his father, leads him to lead an invasion to Jintin, where he will enter in contact with a creature, the Sentinel, and where he will be treasoned by his own men (especially Grey), and almost assassinated, being captured by the Jintians. On the other hand, we have Ailith, princess of Crell, with a long list of achievements for the kingdom, but whose main problem is simple: is a woman, and we are in an extremely sexist society; her own father doesn’t take her seriously, exacerbating the conflict between her and his brother for the throne. This conflict between brother and sister will be the main fuel for the conflict in this novel

Quote_2_-_The_Worthy

There are other POVs in this story, but personally, I found them pretty pointless, adding almost nothing to the novel and its development, sometimes feeling more like a drag than a help to the plot.

Moss uses this novel as an excellent way to treat certain themes as can be sexism, and more in concrete, how women tend to be deemed as less by their masculine counterparts, without taking into account their merits; the sapphic love is also treated, lightly, but as a subplot in the Ailith story, adding another layer of complexity to the character, one that is struggling because, despite all her merits, she is not being taken in the account due to her sex. Political intrigues are used in a brilliant way, using the conflict that the king is fueling between his sons as the better way to reach power, especially on the part of certain lords.

Characters are well developed, most of them pretty significant to the development of the story, especially certain secondary ones, such as Grey, who remembered me to Lord Varys in ASOIAF, always machinating, always doing what he considers the best for Crell, working also in the best for himself. We could call him one of the sparks that starts the fire over Crell, leading to chaos and violence.

Quote_1_-_The_Worthy

As a good grimdark novel, violence and gore abound, following the line established by other grimdark writers. The world is brutal, almost hopeless, but still rich on the detail level. There are two different countries, Crell and Jintian, each one of them being totally different. Crell represents the status quo, the brutality, the supremacy of men over women, and the resistance against change; Jintian is the opposite, a place where equality exists, prosperity being the rule and not the exception, where people climb due to its merits (and highly influenced by keeping control of the Sentinar).

Said that I find there are some problems in this novel that don’t allow me to give it a better score, despite I enjoyed it greatly while reading. As said, I find some of the subplots adding nothing to the main story, dragging the pace sometimes (which outside of this concrete subplot is excellent); and personally, I found the ending to be too abrupt, letting so many things open. An excellent story still, but it felt like the dessert for this meal was missing.

In summary, The Worthy is an excellent debut, and a must for grimdark lovers, people who love it so much. The world created by Anna K Moss is rich, and full of nuances; and honestly, I would like to see more of the different countries there. Characters are grey, making you uncomfortable cheering for any of them, being used as the perfect way to discuss some modern themes such as feminism and equality are


About Anna K. Moss:

Anna K Moss grew up in the shire, both literally and figuratively. Books were her constant companion and she quickly learnt they were far more interesting than reality. She trained as a journalist, but news writing dealt with too much truth, so she veered off into videogames and make-believe. The Worthy was her first foray back into words, with both feet planted firmly in the imaginary. She’s happily married, queer, and has a dog called Ethel

Anna Moss


You can find Jamedi online at:

Site: https://vueltaspodcast.wordpress.com

Twitter: @jamediGwent

Plus others here at https://linktr.ee/jamedi

Categories
audiobooks Fantasy

The Weeping Sigil by Jordan Loyal Short (Book Thoughts)

Wrapping up GrimDarkTober here with … More dark fantasy! Back in August, I was lucky enough to participate in a book tour for The Skald’s Black Verseand knew that I needed to read The Weeping Sigil sooner rather than later. As always, I’ll keep this one 99% spoiler free.

I eventually bought the audiobook and despite that and despite enjoying the narration quite a bit, I ended up reading the second half pretty quickly.  Fully recommend checking out this series if you like dark fantasy, folklore, and fast paced action with some scifi elements.


Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Weeping Sigil
  • Series: The Dreadbound Ode, #2
  • Author: Jordan Loyal Short
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 2020
  • Length: 337 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Here’s the synopsis:

Adrift in the void, Henrik’s rescue is only a prelude to slavery.

But his new life on Tyria is not at all what he expected. When the illustrious House of Quoll purchases him, Henrik finds himself living in the home of his old enemy, Prefect Brasca Quoll. Desperate to hide the truth of his last days on Heimir, Henrik dives into the murderous game of Tyrianite politics. Devastated by the catastrophe on the Norn homeworld, the Federation teeters on the brink of civil war.

While the Shining Ones maneuver their champions for the final confrontation, Henrik’s fevered visions unveil the scope of Moriigo’s nightmarish rebellion.

Aboard a stolen voidcraft, Brohr and Lyssa hurtle into the depths of the starry abyss, on a desperate exodus in search of safe haven. But the outer reaches of the system are full of strange worlds, haunted ruins, and bizarre cults.

As anarchy grips the streets of Tyria, Henrik vows to reveal the true peril facing the Federation: Moriigo’s return! While rival electors, assassins, and federal inquisitors plot the downfall of House Quoll, Henrik must bind himself to the future of his onetime enemies, lest the horrors of his prophetic visions come to pass


So this one picks up right where The Skald’s Black Verse left off.  The Skoljan refugees are heading towards Brohr’s blue planet but have no idea why, and Henrik is adrift in space awaiting rescue.

I think this one excelled most by introducing a lot of new places and people to the world.  Descriptions of the Clockwork and other marvels of the new worlds kept me interested.  Seeing the grand Roman-esque world of Tyria and it’s politics and intrigue.   Terrifying void creatures that actually just wanted to cuddle each other? Ok. I’m down.

Probably the best thing about the book is that I just like Short’s writing.  For a self published book these are exceptionally well edited, and the audio (narrated by Aaron Smith) sounded amazing too.

I think I mentioned the little chapter preludes in book one’s review.  They’re occasionally just anecdotes or parts of texts but often add a lot to the world.  We finally learn what the Dreadbound are because of these little excerpts so I definitely recommend paying attention to them.  Anything quoted from text or prophecy (or heresy)? ends up being if not important, at least interesting.

Henrik and Brohr are still the two main points of view, but now we also get to meet a raider captain named Petra and of all people, Brostar Quoll (Brasca’s father).  I actually liked the Henrik storyline the best in this one as we see him become a pawn of prophecy, blinded, and wreaking all sorts of amazing havoc in Tyria.  I didn’t even dislike Brostar, he seemed like a much better person than his son.  The little kid was cute too and I’m more than a little afraid for his future.  All the political intrigue, plotting, betrayal, and prophecy tied into this storyline was amazing.

Not that Brohr’s storyline was dull, but I can only take so much screeching and bloodshed.  I liked the segment regarding the “shit luck” of the people, because it’s a real dark fantasy trope for characters to just keep making the best out of whatever is left to them. It’s certainly sad to see every ounce of the Norn refugee’s hope stamped out but I just feel like Brohr is heading towards his part in this inevitable war of the gods, and it’s not as interesting yet.  I never liked Lyssa nor cared about her either so… my bad, more Henrik please!

No one had asked him if he wanted to be haunted, to be cursed, a butcher, a horror. He did not walk a path of freedom, but one of fate. She would understand. The sagas needed monsters (p. 253)

So yeah, there wasn’t much hope here at all.  It kept getting darker, and darker, and darker, right until the end.  There’s more magic, more prophecy, more of everything, and I’m probably to jump right into book three and have absolutely no regrets about it.

Categories
Biographies, Memoirs, Nonfiction Crime

I’ll Be Gone In the Dark… by Michelle McNamara et. al (Book Thoughts)

Hey, I finally read this book. (Synopsis & publication facts at the end). I’ve wanted to read it since it came out but what finally pushed me to slide it into my TBR stack was (sigh) Paul Holes’ book, which spoke even more highly of Mcnamara and her journalism related to the Golden State Killer case as well as her as a person. I think pretty much everyone in America either knew McNamara from the red carpet or from looking at TrueCrimeDiary at one point or another in their lives.  She was a phenomenal journalist and her death is one of the many things I file under the “damn shame” department.

I think what I took home from this was that she essentially joined the ranks of cold case detectives and kept America interested in the GSK. Did the book help catch the killer? Well – probably not, but she gave so many victims a name and a story for those who didn’t know. One of many sad parts, besides that she died at 49, was that she unfortunately missed – literally the same day that Patton Oswalt & co finally launched this book – the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo.

Yeah, this is a wonderfully put together and legible account of his victims, comprehensive across multiple precincts, and gave a wide account of interdepartmental politics as well as big picture ideas about the case.  It also put us into victim’s shoes in a chilling look at DeAngelo’s crimes and methods. McNamara had a knack for building reader’s interest by putting out facts and letting her audience play sleuth, which is absolutely part of the appeal of the true crime genre and her writing in particular

For a book about a killer that wasn’t yet caught at the time, this book was amazing.  The mere fact that her researcher was able to piecemeal edit thousands of pages of notes to complete the unfinished chapters was equally amazing, and so is the fact that without the editor’s notes, it would have been impossible to tell who wrote what.   I believe the later edition included the afterword by Oswalt.

Long story short, yes I would definitely check this out if you have absolutely any interest in true crime, the Golden State Killer, or McNamara’s life, as this was also in some large part her autobiography.  I loved the many human touches she added to the pages to look into the psychology of both the “armchair detective” and those who became legit assets to the case.  I think this book deserves every single award it’s won. Go read it!

Here’s the synopsis from the back cover:

A masterful true-crime account of the Golden State Killer—the elusive serial rapist turned murderer who terrorized California for over a decade—from Michelle McNamara, the gifted journalist who died tragically while investigating the case

“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark”.

Over the course of more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. In 1986 he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true-crime journalist who created the popular website True Crime Diary, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called “the Golden State Killer.” Michelle pored over police reports, inter-viewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing his victims—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their homes when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layouts. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction from Gillian Flynn and an afterword by McNamara’s husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true-crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
  • Author: Michelle McNamara
  • Publisher & Release: Harper, 2018
  • Pages: 352 including illustrations
  • Rating: I mean, it has to be 5 stars for everyone involved in this book’s publication