Categories
Science Fiction

Mercury Rising (ARC Review) by RWW Greene

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the early access digital copy of Mercury Rising by RWW Greene! I feel bad for doing a terrible job reading it super early, but here we are anyway!

This is an alternate history, first encounter type story where Kennedy lived and the Earth ended up mobilizing a united space force against an alien race.  How is this really going to work out in the end? Read on for my spoiler free thoughts!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Mercury Rising
  • Series: (Author alluded to a sequel)
  • Author: RWW Greene
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 05/10/22
  • Length: 400 Pages
  • Rate & Recommend:  ⭐⭐⭐⚡ Yes for fans of military sci-fi, first encounters, snarky aliens and their *coughreproductiveneedscough*

Here’s the synopsis:

Alternative history with aliens, an immortal misanthrope and SF tropes aplenty

The year is 1975 – Robert Oppenheimer has invented the Atomic Engine, the first human has walked on the moon, and Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven have sacrificed their lives to stop alien invaders.
Brooklyn, however, just wants to keep his head down, pay his mother’s rent, earn a little scratch of his own, and maybe get laid sometime. Simple pleasures! But life is about to get real complicated when a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes sets him up for murder.

So, his choices are limited – rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland. Brooklyn crosses his fingers and picks the Earth Orbital Forces, believing that after a few years in the trenches – assuming he survives – he can get his life back. Unfortunately, the universe has other plans.

Brooklyn is launched into a quest to save humanity, find his true family, and grow as a person – while simultaneously coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments and the realisation that the true enemies perhaps aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster… Or are they?

Overall, this was a quick and pretty engaging read.  I had trouble getting started with the alternate history portion since it was also super technologically advanced and that threw me off, I guess I am too used to these types of books occurring in the future.  Once the book got going with Brooklyn ending up in jail and then the military, I couldn’t put it down!

Brooklyn is an interesting character, one of those who doesn’t really want to be a hero at all but rises to the circumstances pushed upon him.  I also liked pretty much all of the characters on Venus – especially the doctor.  Throw in a medical mystery or two and this girl is on board!

Speaking of characters, there is an entirely gay spaceship and the astronauts are mostly pretty funny.  I liked seeing how they interacted with the straight guy (Brooklyn) and put him in his place without entirely dismissing his concerns. It was an eye opening experience for Brooklyn and his very gay roommate from military training.   I would have liked to know what happened to the ship and the rest of the crew after Brooklyn’s departure.

Plot wise – this one definitely kept moving.  It was interesting to discover the aliens and their motivation for initiating contact with the Earth and military.  The best part was that I really had no idea what was coming at the end.  The other best part was that Greene really focused on Brooklyn’s story, while letting the others be heroes at the end.

There is a bit of an open ending that I did like, although the author alluded to there being more writing coming in Brooklyn’s world.  With no spoilers – the book does absolutely work as a standalone, but there’s definitely room for a sequel too.

Overall – It took a while to get going for me but I can definitely recommend this one for fans of the genre!

Categories
audiobooks Science Fiction Young Adult

Fairest (book & audio review) by Marissa Meyer

It’s been a rough week here, I keep looking around for or reaching over to pet the dog and she’s not there. The absolute worst

I haven’t gotten much reading done but have been listening to an audio while I can’t sleep. Eventually I will finish Winter. 

Fairest is the first book I read in 2022, the shorter Lunar Chronicles book that falls in between Cress and Winter.  I absolutely 100% recommend reading Fairest in that order with the rest of the series, as it gives a lot of background into Levana’s story, what happened to Cinder, the story with Winter and Jacin, the plague origins, and so many other things.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Fairest
  • Series: The Lunar Chronicles 3.5
  • Author: Marissa Meyer
  • Publisher & Release: Feiwel & Friends, January 2015
  • Length: 226 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for anyone reading the series

Here is the synopsis:

Mirror, mirror, on the wall.
Who is the Fairest of them all?

Pure evil has a name, hides behind a mask of deceit, and uses her “glamour” to gain power. But who is Queen Levana? Long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in The Lunar Chronicles, Levana lived a very different story―a story that has never been told . . . until now.

New York Times –bestselling author Marissa Meyer reveals the story behind her fascinating villain in Fairest, an unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death

I think this provided a lot of the insight I was looking for into the Lunar world.  What is life like for the royalty, what are their expectations, what is society like, etc.

Levana iss more than a bit crazy as an adult and I liked her backstory. Sbe was influenced by early mind control and torture by her older sister, Cinder’s mother, which damages the mind of young children.  At least it was written that mind control is bad for the toddlers.  Also she was probably a little psychotic to begin with, AND just had terrible influence from Channary all along

That said – I don’t think this book was written to garner sympathy so much as tell the back story.  Other than the initial incident and bullying from her sister, Levana made her own choices and did a lot of really sick and questionable things

She’s a heck of a villain, kind of reminds of Joker in that she is just completely criminally insane by the time Winter occurs

Meyer also answered questions I had – like – how does the queen have a black step daughter? What was under the glamour? Who was Cinder’s mom? What about the plague origins? Heck even about Sybil Meara and the Lunar court.

I would love to know why Channary was as rotten as she was, but there were a few allusions to how the girls grew up fairly unsupervised and all of the Lunar royalty and their children tend to be absolutely terrible. As evidenced by the 8 year old boy torturing Scarlet at the end of Cinder

I definitely think this is good to read in between Cress and Winter, because now we know about the queen and even Jacin, and everything makes a little more sense to me

It’s definitely enhancing the reading experience for me in book 4.

Quick notes on the audio: Rebecca Soler definitely gives another awesome performance here.  She hasn’t missed a beat through 4 books now. From Macmillan audio, including the hour ish long preview of Winter, the length is 6h and 32 minutes.  I loved how creepy and murderous she made Channary sound saying “Come heeeeere baby sister” and in contrast, how Levana had to deal with things.  Definitely highly recommend as both a book or audio

Categories
audiobooks Science Fiction Young Adult

Cinder (Book & Audiobook) by Marissa Meyers

I have been mostly mood reading this month, and I ended up finally grabbing Cinder by Marissa Meyers.  I am so late to the party with these older books. I have been seeing them everywhere for years and I guess late is better than never?

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Cinder
  • Series: The Lunar Chronicles
  • Author: Marissa Meyer
  • Publisher & Release:  Feiwel & Friends, January 2012
  • Length: 400 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes for fans of fairy tale retellings, YA, sci-fi, fast paced books, snarky princes, and villains 

Here is the synopsis:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

So I finally, finally started The Lunar Chronicles. I saw a lot of criticism for the poor world building but honestly, I don’t come to fairy tales and fairy tale retellings for world building and I think it would have slowed the book down immensely had Meyer taken the time to explain how Earth got to cyborgs, spaceships, and magical terrorists from the moon.

That said, oh my god, Cinderella with cyborgs

This book was fun! Don’t read into it too much – Cinder is a cyborg with a vicious step mother and one out of two step sisters is also a jerk. She loses a foot instead of a slipper. The handsome prince, Kai, is snarky and funny.  The book really does stay fairly true to Cinderella too but there are enough twists and turns and terrible things, as well as a vastly different ending, that I never felt too bored or too able to predict the story.  Minus the big twist – that one I got straightaway.

There are darker themes of oppression and war, plague, medical testing and death too.  In 2021 I don’t really want to read about death plagues and quarantine, but in 2012 I think this would have been an amazing book for me.  I liked that the Meyer took those darker turns too though, she’s not shy, and I just LOVED who ended up being the silent hero at the end. 

Happily ever after? No, not quite, Cinder is going to have to work for it

I liked Cinder, Iko, and Kai as characters, and the doctor too.  There is plenty of banter and snark for days.  The series villains are introduced – the Lunar Queen has mind control capabilities and is hellbent on war with Earthz whether or not she caves prince Kai into marriage.  I assume we are done with the stepmother but gosh did I want to smack that woman.

I docked one star because a tad bit more micro world building wouldn’t have hurt the plot.

What I really don’t like are the new cartoon covers, but I love the old ones.

For fans of: YA sci-fi, romance, retellings, fast paced books, and everything above.

A brief note on the audio: at slightly over 10 hours, narrated by one of my favorites, Rebecca Soler – this is a highly recommended audio from me. Rebecca is great at the robotic voices. Soler is probably a name recognized by most since her repertoire is insane, may be recognize her from the narration of the Caraval series, Seafire, Ashlords, some James Patterson books, and so many more including Renegades and Heartless, also by Meyer. By Macmillan audio

Categories
Science Fiction

On the Winds of Quasars – Book Tour and Giveaway!!

Happiest of pub dates to T.A. Bruno and his new book On the Winds of Quasars! Book 2 of The Song of Kamaria has released today and I am once again totally honored to be part of the Storytellers On Tour book tour for this awesome sci-fi series!

Make sure to check out the other tour posts as well, here is the schedule with links! click here for that!! 

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Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: On the Winds of Quasars
  • Series: The Song of Kamaria, #2
  • Author: T.A. Bruno
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 09/20/21
  • Length: 353 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⚡ for sci-fi and fantasy fans! This one would *probably* read as a standalone, plenty of background is provided in a not info-dumpy way but I would recommend reading both

Here is the Book Blurb: 

The thrilling sequel to In the Orbit of Sirens

THE WORLD OF KAMARIA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.

In the aftermath of the brutal slaying of a sacred auk’nai deity, Cade and Nella Castus are taken from their home and brought deep into the wilderness. They must make their way back to civilization, traversing dangerous landscapes as they are pursued relentlessly by their captor—a winged abomination.

As Denton and Eliana search for their missing children, they uncover something that will change all life on Kamaria forever.

T.A. drops us right back into the world of Kamaria, where 26 years have passed since the warship Telemachus was crashed into the Siren bent on destroying the human settlers.  With the same alternating point of view style and breakneck pace, these books are quick reads and hard to put down!

Eliana and Denton have two accomplished children of their own now, Cade and Nella, and they are both interesting new characters.  I liked the sign language and deaf character rep, a clear ton of research went into that portrayal and it showed! If the next book has a blind character >.>

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Set 26 years after the forming of a mixed Auk’Nai and human colony, Bruno takes an honest look at what the new city developed into. There is poverty and clear class separation, auk’nai youth losing some of their cultural traditions, new memorials, even down to slowed emergency response times in some areas. What evils might have seeped up from that huge crack in the planet into the Telemachus too? My favorite parts were seeing how the two races learned to co-exist, and what socio-economic divides were present in the city. Another interesting differentiation was between the Auk’nai from the cities and the “wild” ones, the Auk’gnell. He finally brought meaning to the literal term “The Song of Kamaria” and I was on board for it.

If anyone read the interview I did with the author – if not omg read it HERE – he stated that he wanted to bring us through Kamaria with a cinematic eye, and he definitely continues to succeed in this book two.  With vivid imagery, a new connection to nature, even unheard songs, and new wildlife, this is truly a world to get lost in.  The artwork is stunning too, I love the section headings and drawings!

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With many darker undertones like possession, murder, poverty, the return of an old enemy, and a cliffhanger that is just so unfair …. I really have a ton of respect for this story and can’t wait for the ending.


Guys there is also a giveaway associated with the book tour!!

Prize: A paperback copy of On the Winds of Quasars by T. A. Bruno – US OnlyStarts: September 19th, 2021 at 12:00am ESTEnds: September 26th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST

Do find that here!


Author and book links!

Website:https://tabruno.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TABrunoAuthor

Instagram: http://instagram.com/TABrunoAuthor 

Facebook: http://facebook.com/TABrunoAuthor

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/TABrunoAuthor

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58697255-on-the-winds-of-quasars

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Winds-Quasars-Song-Kamaria-Book-ebook/dp/B09BS8FGX5 

Categories
Dystopian Science Fiction

Twenty Five to Life (ARC review) by R.W.W. Greene

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for having me on the book tour for Twenty Five to Life by R.W.W. Greene!

This book is a futuristic “what-if”- what will happen when sea levels rise and pollution is unbreathable? How will the governments manage the end of the world crisis? The book starts at an end of the world party as colony spaceships are deserting the Earth, and everyone left is going to have to fend for themselves.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Twenty Five to Life
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: RWW Greene
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 8/24/21
  • Length: 279 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes for Scifi, dystopian fans!

Here is the book blurb:

Life goes on for the billions left behind after the humanity-saving colony mission to Proxima Centauri leaves Earth orbit … but what’s the point?

Julie Riley is two years too young to get out from under her mother’s thumb, and what does it matter? She’s over-educated, under-employed, and kept mostly numb by her pharma emplant. Her best friend, who she’s mostly been interacting with via virtual reality for the past decade, is part of the colony mission to Proxima Centauri. Plus, the world is coming to an end. So, there’s that.

When Julie’s mother decides it’s time to let go of the family home in a failing suburb and move to the city to be closer to work and her new beau, Julie decides to take matters into her own hands. She runs, illegally, hoping to find and hide with the Volksgeist, a loose-knit culture of tramps, hoboes, senior citizens, artists, and never-do-wells who have elected to ride out the end of the world in their campers and converted vans, constantly on the move over the back roads of America

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It’s hard to pinpoint this book, but I think it’s really about living out your days as best as you can, keeping hope in the worst situations, and finding “the point”.

Most of the population has moved into these tiny cube apartments in towers in the big cities, where the government can offer housing, food, and keep everyone happy aka addicted to pharma emplants and living in Virtual Reality.  While this is life for most of the world, a few citizens live out their lives roaming America’s roads and seeing the sights in caravans.   That certainly sounds better than living as an avatar with no purpose, and no sense of how to interact with anyone anymore!

Julie isn’t quite legal age but she decides to risk running away to join these drifters rather than live out the days till the end of the world in a box.  I really liked Julie and the lady that kind of adopts her on the road, called Ranger. The roads are dangerous and filled with caravans, gangs, and tons of other dangers including disease and weather phenomenon. I like that these people would rather be free than submit to VR, and most have become survivalists.

There are themes of looking out for your neighbor, taking care of the Earth before it is too late, addiction, friendship, sickness and loss, hope and generally making the most of one’s life. It’s almost a plausible future too, who’s to say what would happen if the population has to converge mostly on one continent? Yikes!

The book is funny at times with great banter and plenty of girl power, I gave this one a strong four stars!

Please do check out the other tour hosts as well!

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series: featuring T.A. Bruno!!

Thank you so much everyone for supporting the Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series!!  In this third installment I am lucky enough to feature DreamWorks artist + Sci-fi author T.A. Bruno!

I read his first novel In the Orbit of Sirens and was impressed by both the scope of the plot and the intricate, detailed world building.  The sequel comes out next month and I can’t wait for that one either.

Alright without further ado, here he is!

1) Welcome to the SBAIS! Tell everyone a little about yourself and your writing!

Thanks for having me! I’m happy to be featured. For those who don’t know me, I grew up in Chicago and moved to LA to work in the film industry. I’ve worked on a lot of fun projects, including some Marvel films. I currently work for DreamWorks Animation as a Layout Artist. My career has been all about telling stories through film, and it gave me the confidence to put a story down on paper. In the Orbit of Sirens was my debut novel, and I have written two sequels during quarantine. It’s been a blast, and it allowed me to meet some great people!  

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2) I think based on that, you’re going to have to tell us what a layout artist does! It’s super cool that you work for DreamWorks!!

Thanks! I love telling people about my day job. Layout—or Previz as it’s also known—is one of the best-kept secrets in Hollywood if you ask me. We wear many hats. In live-action (So Marvel movies and other big-budget VFX films), we create a computer-animated sequence for the film that will be visual effects heavy. By making these sequences, we get accurate camera data. We can explore the best ways to film the upcoming sequence before the entire production gets to it. It saves production a lot of time to plan ahead like this, and often we have the Director over our shoulder directing us. After we finish our job, production takes our Previz and films it, mimicking the cameras we made and sticking close to the action we planned out with the Director. The actors even get to look at it for reference. For Dreamworks, it’s the same idea, but we do the entire film. We are cinematographers, and our cameras get finalized. The animators use our work as a foundation to build upon and draw out more personality. It’s a super fun job, and not many people know about it. I’m happy I stumbled into it after College.

3) Feeding off of that, does that experience help you envision the scenery and world building for The Song of Kamaria so far? I definitely thought the visual imagery was one of the first book’s strong points

I’m glad you liked the imagery! Yes, by nature, I tried to escort the reader through the world of Kamaria with a cinematic eye. I treated each sentence as a shot and drew out the details as I would in a camera composition. My career has taught me how to express lots of detail without taking up too much time. I do my best to show and not tell. 

4) I was impressed because I had some obscure world building questions about In The Orbit of Sirens, and you were READY with a response! You had said that it was originally in the book but got edited out and I felt like I could see the holes where the information was before – how do you (or the editor) decide what makes the final cut in the book?  How much did the finished product change would you say from the original?

I have all the answers! I had planned to begin In the Orbit of Sirens very differently. Originally, Eliana and John Veston were on the Telemachus at the same time as Denton. I cut it and started it with Eliana on Kamaria with the forward scout team because it was honestly very dull the other way. Lots of explaining how they made it there and what they needed to accomplish. One of my beta readers actually suggested Eliana should just be on Kamaria in the beginning because Kamaria is where the meat of the story takes place. So before the change, I had written out the first scouting mission and how it all worked {{the techie info}}.  There is a whole chapter I wrote about that. It might make it into a prequel novella, but I will revisit that idea after publishing book 3. 

5) How do you feel about brunch? I think I have to start asking authors their favorite brunch item!

Second breakfast?! I’ll admit, mainly thanks to work from home, my eating schedule is all over the place. I don’t formally recognize any meal anymore, haha. But if I had to sit and consider brunch, I’d probably enjoy a sandwich wrap or some sort. Loves my wraps.

{{Here I will tell readers that in the Northeast, brunch is considered a combo of breakfast and lunch, usually with alcohol, or in some cases refers to breakfast for lunch.  Now I know what L.A. does 😂}}

6) What was your publishing journey like? Do you have any advice for hopeful authors trying to write or publish a book?

I think publishing in 2021 is an interesting field. Initially, I attempted to get traditionally published, but after many rejections, I reevaluated my priorities. What did I want? What did I want my future to look like? And most importantly, how much longer did I want to sit on In the Orbit of Sirens? For the record, the final version of In the Orbit of Sirens is very different from the one I queried. I don’t blame those agents for rejecting me.  When I realized that I enjoy my day job, and that the only story I really wanted to tell was the Song of Kamaria, and that the validation of a committee of publishers didn’t mean anything to me, I realized I’d be better suited to self-publish. I’m very glad I did too! I have total control over the story I’m putting out. I got to pool together all my resources and friendships and pump my entire body and soul into these books. I got to meet so many great people, including you! I also got to bring in my friend Jason Hall to do the illustrations in my book. I always loved his art style!

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At the end of the day, I can say The Song of Kamaria is ME. The cover, the illustrations, and the words all spawned from my resources, connections, and skillset. I’m so happy with how it’s being received as well. It just makes me more proud of being self-published and taking the risk of being my own boss.

7) Kamaria runs the entire spectrum of scifi, from interstellar war to space ships, futuristic technology, first contact… which idea came first? Do you remember what idea or theme you built the book around?

I knew I wanted to do something I hadn’t seen before, and most of my decisions sprang from “what haven’t I seen yet?” I wanted to write a story about starting over and making new choices. So a desperate escape to a new planet with limited resources felt like the best way to do that. I wanted to make Kamaria something unique. The native Kamarians are nothing like anything from Earth, so they are not based on Earth life. They are technologically advanced, but in a way that nurtures a peaceful life that utilizes the land around them. I also wanted to explore the parts of human nature that involve lying and truths. Readers might have noticed that you can’t lie to the auk’nai (mainly because it’s said between characters often) but that the Undriel are huge liars. Humans are in the middle, sometimes deceiving each other and sometimes being painfully truthful. I had not seen that before, and I felt it was worth writing about. I know this answer is a little scatterbrained, but I’ll conclude it by saying I had MANY brainstorms about what this trilogy should be before starting. 

8)  Here is the easy round of rapid fire bookish questions – do you have a favorite book or series you always recommend? Favorite literary character? Any wonderful or strange bookish habit?

I am loving Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep trilogy (I’ll admit I haven’t finished it yet, but the first two books are some of my favorite Sci-fi). But I always recommend Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos to everyone. Vinge’s series can be a little bit of a slow burn that I specifically loved, but Hyperion is just excellent sci-fi that anyone could love. Favorite literary character Piranesi from the book of the same name. He was just fantastic, and I did the audiobook, voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who made him even more charming. And my weird bookish quirk is often buying multiple versions of the same book. It’s not unusual for me to have an e-book, physical copy, and an audiobook of the same book sometimes. Typically if I do audiobook and enjoy it enough, I will buy a physical copy for my shelf. And if I’m leaving a review on Amazon, I’ll buy an e-book with my author account instead of my personal one so that my review shows up as a “verified purchase.” Plus, it helps support my self-published friends.

9) Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! If there’s anything else you’d like to say about anything, please do so here!

Thank you for the interview! I really enjoyed these questions. For those looking to jump into the world of Kamaria, now is a great time! The second book, On the Winds of Quasars, releases September 20th, 2021. Currently, the e-book is available to preorder, but softcovers and hardcovers will also be available on the 20th. I hope you enjoy your time on Kamaria!


Meet the author!

T. A. BRUNO grew up in 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 a proud father of two boys and a husband to a wonderful wife. IN THE ORBIT OF SIRENS is his debut science fiction novel.

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Links:

Twitter:

https://mobile.twitter.com/TABrunoAuthor

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/tabrunoauthor/

The Song of Kamaria series Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09B4YVKGT?binding=kindle_edition&ref=dbs_dp_rwt_sb_tukn

Author website: TABruno.com

In the Orbit of Sirens audiobook link: https://www.audible.com/pd/In-the-Orbit-of-Sirens-Audiobook/B08X5XVW8Q?qid=1614184804&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=83218cca-c308-412f-bfcf-90198b687a2f&pf_rd_r=BFGSJEZSWAPDEDGY62HQ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20726865.T_A_Bruno

Categories
Fantasy Science Fiction

Book Review: The Guardian of the Palace by Steven J. Morris

Thank you so much to By the Book VBP tours for having me on the Instagram tour for The Guardian of the Palace!  This is a fast paced, urban fantasy + invasion story mash-up that surprisingly works really well.  I would recommend to contemporary fantasy fans!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Guardian of the Palace
  • Series: The Guardian League, #1
  • Author: Steven J. Morris
  • Publisher & Release: Indie, 01/22/21
  • Length: 358 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟✨ for fans of the genres!

The Plot & Story: So the book actually doesn’t list a synopsis, and I am going to give you the key points really quick.  There is a huge four-block-wide building going up in NYC called The Palace, and Garnet “Red” Hernandez is hired on as a security head as construction continues.  She is ex military special ops, and her team of three friends are the other main human characters of the story.  Red sees something strange in the lower levels of The Palace, and before we know it there is a two fronted alien invasion going on.  The fun part is finding out why, how, and who exactly these invaders are.  To what lengths will the Guardians go to save Earth?

The prologue was incredibly gripping, and the book never let me go until the end…and I’m glad that book two is coming out soon.

The Characters: We also see a bit of Red’s military career to show where she and the rest of the characters came from, how they bonded, and what kind of people they are.  Red is a strong person who believes in rights, humanity, and the power of a strong team.  Rocks, Bear, and Scan are the rest of her group and I liked them too. The banter is interesting, they seem like real people, and extended amounts of good dialogue can be hard to find these days.  The chapters tend to stay pretty short and are mainly told from Red’s point of view.

I REALLY like the non-human characters.  Let’s just say there is an Elf, a troll, and a dwarf, and they are a little bit hilarious in their own ways.

The World Building: One of my favorite aspects was how Morris was able to blend the non-human and fantasy aspects into the modern day setting, giving plausible explanations for non-fantasy readers to follow fairly easily.   He gives enough info for the Infected and the other aliens that the explanations make sense, without doing any huge info dumps.

Misc: The place where I docked half a star was that when the other characters start having point of view chapters, I didn’t think their voices sounded distinct enough.  Not so much Agent Smith, but Rocks and Scan sounded very similar, and Grundle sounded extremely human in his thought processes.

I like how towards the end, the characters for the next book are set up and introduced more. Morris presented a clear path going forward, with a bit of a cliffhanger to keep me wanting to see the next book.

Thankfully, book two, Stars in the Sand, is coming out soon! I will be touring that book on June 2nd so keep an eye out for the review!

Giveaway! If you think this book sounds good, I am currently giving away a SIGNED, FINISHED COPY on my bookstagram! Go enter now  by clicking on this link1

Categories
Dystopian Literary Fiction Science Fiction

Book Tour & Review: Composite Creatures by Caroline Hardaker

Thank you so much to Angry Robot Books (Caroline, Gemma, and Sam are good eggs!) for having me on the book tour for Composite Creatures, an exciting new book that releases on 04/13/21!  This is a low-key science fiction novel that is also a meditation on the future of healthcare ethics, growing up, growing older, and prioritizing what matters most

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

How close would you hold those you love, when the end comes?

In a society where self-preservation is as much an art as a science, Norah and Arthur Ratare learning how to co-exist in their new little world. Though they hardly know each other, everything seems to be going perfectly – from the home they’re building together to the ring on Norah’s finger.

But survival in this world is a tricky thing, the air is thicker every day and illness creeps fast through the body. And the earth is becoming increasingly hostile to live in. Fortunately, Easton Grove is here for that in the form of a perfect little bundle to take home and harvest. You can live for as long as you keep it – or her – close.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Composite Creatures
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Caroline Hardaker
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 04/13/21
  • Length: 400 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟✨  Yes for the patient readers

The Plot & Story: I honestly believe that the less you know going in about this book, the better.  Health in the UK is going drastically downhill in the future as the air itself causes cancer, the animals are all extinct, healthy life expectancy is pathetic… and the NHS is handing the reins over to a private company.   Enter an elitist group called Easton Grove, that promises health and happiness to those who can afford it, and pass all the tests.  

What exactly is this little bundle that Easton Grove offer?

Hardaker makes us wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, and wait……and wait for it.  Most of the reveal happens towards the end of the book so I definitely recommend this one for the patient readers.  In the meantime we get a lovely meditation on life, losing one’s parents, falling out from our old friends, and co-existing with our chosen company.  This one takes a good hard look at life’s hardships.  The question becomes – is it worth holding out so long for the answers?  It took until the very last page but I think so.

The characters: I also think that the less you know about the characters, the better.   Norah and Arthur seem like a good pair, except it again takes a very long time for the book to reveal how they got together.  I liked Norah a lot and really, really hated Arthur until almost the end.  I think Hardaker did that on purpose though, she waited until page 400 out of 400 to make me forgive him, in that she also showed Norah as a “Composite Creature”

What does that even mean? Well – read it to find out

The World: Think of a slightly futuristic, overly polluted London with toxic soil, a sky with no birds, and a generally gray atmosphere.  The book creates gorgeous reminisces of the past through artwork and Norah’s memories of her mother.  I will give Hardaker endless Kudoes for the imagery in the book.  Hardaker is a published poet and I think that shows in her debut novel quite a bit.

Miscellaneous: One other cool thing I noticed is that RJ Barker (you know I always rave about The Bone Ships) blurbed the book, so that’s awesome.

The only thing that I really didn’t like was that Hardaker made us wait, for EVERYTHING.  She would mention a name, or a conflict, or a story, and give us absolutely no background until much later in the book.  Luke and Aubrey were good examples of this – I spent half of the book feeling like I missed something, but eventually I realized that we would eventually learn what’s going on.  I didn’t feel like these smaller reveals were necessarily worth waiting for though, which is where I docked the 1.5 stars.  I would have liked an occasional “bone” from the author.

Overall: Definitely recommend for fans of twisty, meditative books, mysteries, speculative fiction, sci-fi, and strong character builds.  


Meet the Author:

Author and poet Caroline Hardaker in her workspace. Caroline has published several books, including Bone Ovation.

Instagram: @angryrobotbooks – @caroluna_writes_stuff

Twitter: @angryrobotbooks | @carolinehwrites

More Information can be found about the author on her website:

https://carolinehardakerwrites.com/about-caroline-hardaker/


There is also plenty of book tour left, so make sure to check out the following hosts on Instagram or on their blogs! Thank you again to Angry Robot for letting me participate and feature the book!

graphic: list of book tour, blog hosts
Categories
audiobooks Fantasy Fiction Mysteries Science Fiction

Audio/Book Review: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

In an effort to read more books that are already on my shelves this year, I finally picked up The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss! I read a short fairytale retellings collection of hers last year, and between that and the book featuring an Athena Club, (added bonus because I like things with my name in it), this seemed like a good pick right now!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s daughter
  • Series: The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, #1
  • Author: Theodora Goss
  • Publisher & Release: Gallery / Saga Press, June 2017
  • Length: 417 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 for fans of mysteries and retellings!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

Audio:  I did listen to some of this on audio, and omg.  From Simon & Schuster audio, narrated by Kate Reading, she won an Audie in 2018 for best fantasy. Kate was just perfect. Every character has a unique voice, she speaks clearly and enunciates everything beautifully. I would absolutely 100% recommend this as an audiobook

The Story/Plot:  I think the synopsis tells you everything that you need to know about the plot!  This is a fantastically fast-paced book, starting with Mary Jekyll and gradually expanding to the full cast of characters as the women find each other. Along with each woman’s individual story, each of which were some of my favorite parts of the book, the crew is attempting to solve the Whitechapel murders.  These murders are re-written and worked in as part of the mad scientist plot!

The Characters: most of these characters are either completely new or Rewritten with their own personalities, but any fan of classic literature will hopefully appreciate them.  Characters worked from Jekyll & Hyde, Frankenstein, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Dracula, Jane Eyre, and more are here, but it’s not necessary to know the original stories to read this at all.

The characters really are an interesting group, from poisonous Beatrice to super strong Justine to catwoman Catherine, and Hyde’s daughter is absolutely hilarious.   They refuse to be limited by being women in Victorian London.  Holmes and Watson take on new personalities too!

The Mystery:  no spoilers, but since I’ve never been a big Sherlock Holmes reader it was interesting to see how his murder investigation unfolded. The women were also running investigations and although the why shortly became apparent, the who and big picture- not so much. I just think it’s really cool how Goes pulled all of these characters into one coherent novel

Content: I got nothing for ya here.  Someone pees in holy water and they inspect a few dead bodies

Overall:  I can definitely recommend this one for fans of classical retellings and Mysteries!

Categories
Fiction Science Fiction Suspense Thrillers

ARC Review: The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

I was so incredibly shocked and thrilled to receive an ARC box from Tor Books for The Echo Wife!! After a great giveaway on Instagram, I dug into the book and finally collected my thoughts on it!

One part science/medical fiction, one part domestic thriller, with some psychological and ethical thriller aspects too, I can safely recommend The Echo Wife for just about anyone!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: The Echo Wife
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Sarah Gailey
  • Publisher & Release: Tor Books, 2/16/21
  • Length: 253 pg
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟⚡ for pretty much anyone!

Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

The Echo Wife is a non-stop thrill ride, perfect for readers of Big Little Lies and enthusiasts of “Killing Eve” and “Westworld­”

Martine is a genetically cloned replica made from Evelyn Caldwell’s award-winning research. She’s patient and gentle and obedient. She’s everything Evelyn swore she’d never be. And she’s having an affair with Evelyn’s husband.

Now, the cheating bastard is dead, and the Caldwell wives have a mess to clean up. Good thing Evelyn Caldwell is used to getting her hands dirty…

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This book truly has so many interesting aspects, including clones, ethics, life falling apart, and obviously murder. It had me in a Black Mirror style mind kerfuffle, especially at the end, and it was great.

The Echo Wife is what you get when a cheating husband steals research and clones his wife, then makes a life with the clone.  How far outside of regular scientific ethics did he go?  Do ethics even apply to clones?

Martine, the “new wife,” eventually snaps and murders the husband in self defense, at which point Evelyn has to get involved to protect her research and her own skin.

This is so much more than a sci-fi murder fest though. Evelyn’s research is mostly about making cloned body doubles for politicians and then she exterminating the specimens. While the clone conditioning process comes across as brutal, in theory it make sense to create realistic doubles. Martine forces Evelyn to take a deep look at cloning ethics and whether or not they might be people.

There is also a look back at Evelyn’s childhood where abuse or at least fear of it is implied, and a sobering look at how marriages fall apart.  Why were they so silent in her childhood home? How does love turn to hate? These parts read a bit slowly but it felt very real, eerie at times, and it was interesting to see how Evelyn’s behavior is influenced by her upbringing, and maybe why she can see “murder” from such a detached standpoint.

Is Evelyn turning into her mother or her father, or parts of both?  Which would even be worse? This is a shorter book and while slower moving at times, gave me many scientific “what ifs” to ponder. The end is just 😳 omg, straight out of Black Mirror.

The Echo Wife is definitely a book that I can recommend for a wide range of genre fans!  Actual science fiction, medical fiction, domestic thriller fans, even some general fiction and literary readers might enjoy the perusal of human nature found here.

Thank you so much again to Tor Books for my early copy!!! The book is out 2/16 so preorder now if it sounds up your alley!!