Just One More Chapter

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. 

-Vera Nazarian

 

I'm just trying to light up the world as much as I can one SciFi/paranormal/fantasy/space opera/time travel book at a time. 

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Here and Now and Then-- Solid Time Travel story

Here and Now and Then - Mike Chen

Now THIS Time Travel book is solid with a Capital "S"! As you may or may not know, I'm a love love LOVER of Time Travel books!!! Give me a plausible story about traipsing through Time and Space and I am SO there. This book did not disappoint. There were some tricky love situations but it definitely won't be found in the "Romance" section because there were no smoochy kissy face bits. Not a big loss imo but just an fyi if you're into that. What it DID have was a cleverly handled Grandfather Paradox that was dreamed up and executed magnificently. The end was my favorite part...great ending! I won't spoil things by telling you too much, or even if it wrapped up neatly, BUT I will say that the turn of events were as plausible as possible. The characters were developed beautifully and the world building was good. The Future wasn't described in THAT much detail but it was enough to picture how much we as humans and our technology advanced. Sorry if this review is too brief or nondescript in any way, I'm trying to preserve the intrigue and the way everything unfolds so you have the best reading experience possible.

 

Overall: If you like books about Time Travel, and/or thrilling races against time, then I definitely recommend this one!! I really enjoyed it.

 

~ Enjoy!

on the look out

I'm looking for a good great Steam Punk read... any suggestions?

Priory of the Orange Tree --- sadly not for me

The Priory of the Orange Tree - Samantha Shannon

This is quite the enigma. I have picked this up and abruptly put it back down at least 9 or 10 times. I just can't get into it and that's confusing since the synopsis hit all the right notes. I was intrigued. I also saw all of those glowing reviews and I feel like I'm reading a different book. We're not vibing. Forget falling in love with it (like the other reviewers), I'm just trying to fall in tolerance with it... and I'm failing. I'm going to give this one the benefit of the doubt and say it's probably a simple case of "it's not you, it's me". Maybe it's because I have been reading some REALLY good books lately, I think it has set the bar pretty high. Either way, it wasn't for me and I set my limit at 10 tries before I call it so here we are... I HATE to say it but... I QUIT!

 

*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

Letters to the Lost-- went straight into my favorites pile

Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer

~~ This Deserves All the Stars in the Sky ~~


It's 3:30 a.m. and I have been laying in my bed for hours, body aching, sleep weary, red eyed, (to be honest) a little moody, trying to keep my sobs as quiet as humanly possible. There are dam rupturing tears falling in great big drops and I can't stop thinking about these characters. My main goal was to not wake the hubby. I had as much luck with that as I had hating this book...that is to say none at all. It feels like I only just started this adventure an hour or so ago but in the real world it has been quite a while. Hours of repeatedly promising the Sleep Gods, "Just One More Chapter, I swear"! I will try to articulate through sleep deprived, water filled, bleary eyes and a recently shattered heart. If I could paint the scene there would be, among other things, giant cartoon emoji heart eyes and love birds circling my head tweeting merrily next to a broken and bleeding heart.

 

This book is haunting, devastating and even a touch cliche.... but in a good, nay a GREAT way and I devoured it in one sitting. The Male MC is trope-y, yes, yet deep and tortured and brave and swoony...if you're into seemingly bad boys that turn out to be spiky marshmallows (prickly exterior with a gooey center) look no further!! Looking for an action packed, high octane read? Look elsewhere. Here you will find incredibly well developed, yet painfully aggrieved, characters that will leave you weeping and wanting to comfort, nurture, envelope and adopt them.

 

This is a book about many things but a large part of it centers around Loss, something I am sure we are all WELL acquainted with. It touches on Loss of many kinds. There is loss of a family member(s), loss of control, loss of familial connections, loss of belonging, loss of the will to live, and loss of one's true self. BUT it is also about Gain. The gaining of help from unexpected sources, gaining of self confidence, the release of contrition and gain of absolution, and most of all regaining your true You... SO emotionally powerful!! It is completely character driven and sappy and I enjoyed every second of it.

 

I loved how the letters progressed from hate and resentment to trepidation right on through to acceptance, appreciation and catharsis. The MCs evolution from strangers to intimate friendship (maybe more?? I won't say), was like a rare flower revealing its beatific perfection through an intricate unfurling... that is to say that the plot revealed itself demurely and was perfectly paced.

 

It was a joy to learn and grow and grieve and accept along with the characters. Even the secondary and tertiary characters were crafted beautifully and were relateable and even loveable. All characters resided firmly in the Gray zone, somewhere between Perfect and Abysmal, just the way I like them. Nothing is more realistic than an all too human, semi-tortured Gray soul. It was a thing of beauty, strangers baring their souls, shared turmoil, and eventually coming out the other end being accepted and loved... truly accepted and truly loved for who & what they actually are...spikes and all. This is headed straight to my favorites section toot sweet.

 

Overall: I can not reccomend this book highly enough, especially if you're looking for a character driven gem with an extremely protracted hate --> more(??) burn that is TOTALLY worth the time and tears! I loved this book so much that I wish I could spend the day clutching it to my chest and loving it to itsy bitsy teeny weeny pieces. I also wish that I was just starting fresh. I would gladly, in a hummingbird's heartbeat, read this book anew, this very second, if it meant that I would get to experience it with pristine eyes and an intact heart. Go get a box of tissues and a copy of this book!

 

~Enjoy

The Cerulean by Amy Ewing-- just say no

I was thinking of trying out something new. I want to try and stop speaking too brashly about a book in my reviews. It just seems wrong to poop on someone's hard work BUT, on the other hand, I also want to be honest and let you guys know what you're getting yourself into.

 

Brace yourself... Here we go...

 

This book boasted such a wonderful premise that I totally ignored my TBR plan of attack and slipped this ahead of others. WHAT A MISTAKE! I really, REALLY, hands down did not enjoy reading this book! I wish it were possible to be refunded my time which may sound severe but it's true. I yearn for a time machine to recoup my time spent and THAT is a baaaad omen. The writing was basic, not exceptional nor horrific just middle of the road Meh (and that's the good bit). The world building was depthless. I never was able to picture what the world looked like because it was never richly described. There were problems abound, especially with the plot. There was a society comprised of only women who pair and mate in groups of 3. They were able to reproduce somehow. The book just said that they go to the birthing place. There was a (convoluted) tether connecting their City in The Sky to a planet. This tether could somehow get nutrients from the planet which was then brought up through the (nebulous) tether into the City for their consumption. Don't look at me, I'm lost in the vagueness as well. The Cerulean aliens could live in any atmosphere of any planet, eat any of the indigenous food and understand and speak any language they encounter. THEN there was a strange bit about the main Cerulean in the story being odd because she was "straight" and then another MC female (who was human) was "not like the other girls" because she liked girls...the sexual preferences parts felt forced and uncomfortable to read. There were quite a number of info dumping spots which usually leads me to skim... a grievous action in my opinion but a necessary one here. I can't help it, my brain doesnt take too kindly to insipid, depthless banality. When I encounter this I skim/skip right through whole chunks and basically I become a big 'ole cheat. I don't like it, I'm not proud of it but it's a knee jerk, autopilot reaction.

 

ANYWAY... back to the problems we go.

 

The naming of almost everything was incredibly sophomoric. Then there was the racism. The human factions were presented in a racially offensive way. The dark skinned humans that resided in one of the only two countries on the whole planet were ruthless, oppressive towards women and all around evil while the light skinned people of the other country were progressive, kind and good.

 

What a load of BS!!

 

I'm sorry, I know I said that I would try to give only positive reviews and this one could be filed under "HARSH" BUT I also want to be honest and prepare you for what you are possibly getting into. In my opinion you should steer clear of this one but that's just my 2 cents.

Second Star by J.m Sullivan-- Peter Pan retell in space

Space pirates and mermaids and deities Oh My! Welcome to a thoroughly entertaining space romp. Fair warning: I am a HUGE sucker for (good) Space Operas so this might be a bit biased.

 

This Peter Pan reimagining could have gone horribly wrong, especially due to how fundamentally different it is from the original, BUT thankfully it did not disappoint. This was one retelling that was solid on all fronts. The writing was well executed. So much so that I will definitely be looking for more of J.M. Sullivan's worlds to visit in the future. The characters, though not particularly deep, made up for their substance deficiency in spades with their entertainment value. To complete the trifecta of awesomeness that I believe is imperative to have when creating a truly successful read was its plot. It was fun to see how each character was revamped and even more fun guessing how my favorite parts from the original book would translate in a totally different environment. Every time I came across common threads that tied together the original and retold stories I was elated. There were common places and names and dialogue to boot. We even get to witness some crowing.

 

It wasn't just Peter's POV though. Multi POVs can easily make or break a books' flow but here it worked. It worked so well that I happened to fall in love with characters that I could not connect with in the original story. Three such characters were Wendy, Michael and John. This new and improved Wendy was a kick ass Captain that was extremely intelligent, more than physically capable and an all around female force to be reckoned with. She, John and Michael, who are not related in this re-envisioning, were a beautifully cohesive trio. Both John and Michael were reshaped into VERY clever/barely recognizable young men which rendered them instantly likeable. The tertiary characters were also alluring, even without full dimensionality. I loved Tinc as futuristic tech instead of an annoying fairy and even Smee got a technological upgrade.... SO fun!

 

What fell flat for me was the romantic element. It felt extraneous and disjointed. I hope this will be rectified in future installments because it really did come off as forced and an afterthought.

 

Overall: This book was a clever, unique, transportive space Gaunt that I enjoyed immensely. I am definitely looking forward to getting my hands on the next book in the series ASAP. I reccomend this to lovers of Futuristic Space Opera Retellings with Fantastical elements and pirates... SPACE PIRATES!! Sounds like a niche market but if you're a fan of any of those genres, you won't be disappointed.

~ Enjoy


*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

Blood Heir- oooohhhh so good

Blood Heir - Amélie Wen Zhao

I have read that there is some controversy surrounding this book and all I can say is that this is FICTION people and damn good fiction at that!! l loved it! I truly did. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars not only to offset the low ratings that were trying to bully the author but because this book has everything you could want. It is a steady paced, action packed, tension filled, affinity laden, literary gem with a dash of court intrigue to top it all off. Are there depictions of indentured servitude? Yes. Is it condoned? Heck no! In fact, the MC is fighting every day, every single page, to correct and rectify such atrocities. She herself, though born a Royal and therefore originally treated much differently than the rest of the Affinite, was later found out and subjugated to the same hate filled bigotry. This is what she is fighting so hard to overturn. I don't know. How could a fan of the genre, in honest to goodness good faith, go into a read and expect the book to follow guidelines that they themselves dictate? If that's what you're looking for then go write your own book!! Leave this book alone, it was awesome!!

 

On to the actual review.

 

The writing happened to be expertly detailed yet not overly flowery. I know some of you loathe overtly beatific and loquacious writing BUT I personally have been known to be won over by some lyrically verbose dialogue... though I digress for this is not such a book. I enjoyed the richness of the characters. They are both complex and morally gray (although some resided a bit more on the darker side of crispy). The world building is elaborate and lush. There is a hint, nay a whisper of a romance sloooooowly percolating... leading to only God knows where but damnit it hurt so good! I am 100% rooting for Ramson and Ana and I love even more how she keeps his ego in check! She is one bad ass heroine and a really interesting MC.


Overall: I read this in 2 sittings which might not sound impressive but with how hectic things have been in my neck of the woods, it turned out to be quite an accolade. Read this if you're into Magical Fantasy, especially if you like yours with a splash of Courtly Intrigue and a very healthy dose of female kickassery (it's a thing...).

 

~ Enjoy

 

*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

 

Verity by Colleen Hoover -- deserves a higher rating system

Verity - Colleen Hoover

MAN OH MAN, prepare to be royally mind fucked!! Excuse my language but there really isn't a better way to explain your foreseeable future. I want to climb a ridge, a bluff or at least a very tall fire escape, a la Westside Story style, and scream until my voice gives out about just how F'ing messed up/awesome this book is. I read it in one sitting and wish I was just starting from scratch. In fact, I'm already having withdrawls mere hours after finishing the last page. I can't get it out of my head! The writing is raw and unapologetic, natural and most definitely addictive. I can't believe how ravenous I became after just a few sentences. I didn't really know what to expect going into it and I highly suggest you do the same. Once you finish the first chapter you'll undoubtedly find yourself, like I did, maniacally flipping through the pages fiending to find out what's going to happen next. It keeps you guessing at almost every turn and your guesses will take a more dark and sinister turn the further you get into the plot... it's equal parts horrific and wondrous. The world building will transport you right into the thick of things on the very first page and never let you go. It's so rich you can smell the Crazy wafting in the air.

 

There is no sure footing with this book. It feels like tightrope walking, sans safety netting, while on Xanax and a pitcher of margaritas... not that I endorse trying that at home, or anywhere else for that matter, BUT I do endorse reading this book with all of my (twisted tale loving) being. Trigger warnings for extremely horrific parenting, allegations of child abuse, a boat load of codependency, bouts of social anxiety, a possible self-abortion attempt, a smidge of adultery and of course MUUUUURDER... dum dum dum.

 

This creepy, psychological thriller will suck you into a time warp and by the time you come up for air the night will have evaporated and you will find yourself sequestered in the same reading spot you entered the book in, entirely ignoring the crowded family soiree you helped plan. It is the perfect candidate for a "One More Chapter" chant along with a few rounds of "We're here, we're readers, get used to it" (preferably followed by an emptying room and some hours of uninterrupted silence).... ahhhhh now THAT'S living the dream!

 

But I digress.

 

Know what else this book does? It grabs you in a death grip and leads you into a forest of misdirection and false leads... commanding you to splash around in the murky puddles of a few deviously wicked minds. I loved every single unscrupulous character! Not a single one was a clear cut case of "Good" or "Bad" and somehow Colleen Hoover manages to make you feel deeply for each and every cast member, even the mentally jacked up ones. Just when you think you have a character pegged (ahem, Verity I'm most definitely looking at you), Mrs. Hoover flips the script and gives you a whole new perspective on the rapidly decaying situation. Know what else I loved? The ending! Being able to say that is such a rare and treasured event! Just as there are no clear cut morally superior characters (though Jeremy is incredibly swoon worthy), so too is there no tidy, conveniently wrapped up in a neat little karmically neutral sparkly bow, ending.

 

Overall, I can't endorse this trippy read more emphatically, that is if you don't mind an extended stay in Disturbia. This is headed straight for my Favorites pile and I bet you'll chuck it into yours as well. Go ahead and squirrel away a chunk of time and pick this one up, you can thank me later.

~Enjoy

Egypt Magnified by David Long

This book is a literal treasure trove of knowledge. There is SO much information that it can be a bit overwhelming. The pages are jam packed with tidbits and facts, so much so you can reread this book and find new things to learn and see each revisit. There is information about Egypt (duh) and about key Egyptians throughout history. There are depictions of everyday Egyptians and what mischief they possibly are up to alongside captions about Pharoahs, their Life and Afterlife. There are scribes and tomb raiders and the Great Sphinx...oh my!! There is so much detail you can't help but feel like you're part of the action. The illustrations are quite detailed and the information is just astounding. My 8 year old daughter was awed by this book. She is constantly seeking any and all information on Egypt largely because her grandfather is from Cairo and he is her hero. After reaching the end of the book she loved going back and finding all of the hidden objects and people populating the pages Where's Waldo Style. This book was an instant success in our household! What a great way to make learning fun!!


*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

Miraculum by Steph Post

This book had its moments. It's no secret, I am a full fledged sucker for a good Circus/Carnival-centric book. Reading this synopsis had me feeling like this book had my name writtem ALL over it! I was super excited to start but unfortunatly the first thing I noticed, right off the bat, was that there were GLARING editorial mistakes. The misuses, omissions and all around lack of proper editing chopped up the flow everytime I came across them. Bad grammar is a pet peeve of mine and it smacks me in the face...HARD... every single time I come across some. That being said, I tried to move on and let them slide with only a wince and a minor curse to mark their passage BUT move on I did.

 

As for the actual story, the plot moved along nicely. It definitely gave off a strong Carnival T.V show (circa 2000-2003) vibe. That was a great show and so too was the scaffolding of this story...the meat and potatoes, they were tasty. I really enjoyed how rich and vivid the imagery was BUT there was some info dumping with regards to the Gods origin stories, their interrealtedness and the actual Voodoo practices. Because of those areas the plot was a bit choppy at times. Otherwise, the pacing was on point. It kept me interested and involved enough to see it through until the end. I waded through the editing woes and the spotty info dumps and even some semi-transparent plot twists and came out the other end rather pleased with the whole story. That was until the end...

 

That ending felt like a copout. It was wholly dissatisfying...underwhelming... a fizzle where a BANG should have been. With how thoroughly the Geek decimated our kick ass heroine's life, that ending seemed like a pittance... a hail mary to an intercepted fumble. Yes, I can appreciate how realistic/diplomatic that finale seems, for there is never really a true victor in the war between Good and Evil, BUT come on.... if your life was torn asunder, I believe a little bloody retribution would have been on the menu.... there wasn't even a slap. I don't know. This was a mixed bag for me. I loved the imagery. I loved/loathed some of the characters BUT those editing mishaps and that whimper of an ending have this book precariously perched on the ratings scale. I believe that with a good editing scrub and a tweak here and there regarding the info dumping, this could be a really great book.

 

Oooohhhhh but that ending...

 

Overall impression: This was a fun read. The writing was captivating and the characters were robust and really...those are the factors that matter most, right?


*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

The Wicked King by Holly Black

The Wicked King - Holly Black

I can't believe it ended THAT way.


I can't believe Mrs. Black built such an amazingly lush world, populated with the most virulent yet alluring cast. She cultivated Hope... hope of redemption, just desserts and most of all hope for some form of happy tidings (at least for some of my favs) and then proceeded to crush it/them/me mercilessly... AGAIN!


How could you??? How could you Mrs. Black?? How could you Cardan and Jude and Maddock and Taryn and the whole stinking cast... HOW COULD YOU???


You ensnared me with magical prose that slowly wound their way around my vulnerable heart... and after a painful Hate ---> Love(ish)----> What the Heck is Going On?? burn you take my beating heart in hand and squeeze with impish delight and I know it's not just me (I KNOW it!) AND for our part we love you all the more for it Holly Black!!


*** End run on rant ***


*** Begin Fangirl rant ***


It might seem fickle to start Fangirling now BUT it's just impossible to forgo gushing over perfection. Holly Black you wonderous, magnificent, terrible fiend! Your brain is devious and awe inspiring. Your powers of evocative and intoxicating writing have me wonderstruck. Right now I sit, staring at the ceiling, trying to discern what I just bore witness to. I listened to this on Audible and I'm thankful I did because otherwise I might have done the unthinkable and taken my intense anger and frustration out on my ereader.

::: AUDIBLE GASP :::

I know I know... I don't think I'd do it but in the heat of the moment... you never know. Thankfully I reigned in my emotions. Right now though, while still in the grip of said moment, all I feel is a strong urge to scream... or puke. I am very disappointed with that ending but misdirection leading to evisceration is Mrs. Black's signature move and I mean that in the most reverent way possible.


If you don't know Holly Black then let me tell you just how immersive and heartwrenching her transcendent writing is. She has an impressive catalog of novels to her name. The ones I have read thus far are equal parts stunning and monstrous and I have loved/loathed them just as she commands... I am her emotional puppet and I love every second of her machinations! She has a way of crafting multidimensional characters that are at once relateable yet utterly foreign and you just can't get them out of your brain. I finished Cruel Prince a while ago and I still find myself daydreaming about it. Putting myself squarely in the middle of that world... love-hating (it's a thing) every last smidge of awesomeness that is her imagination. Her worlds stick to you and change you and you can't help but love her for it.


There are so many characters that deserve to be mentioned both for how beautifully they're crafted and how beautifully duplicitous they inevitably turn out to be...BUT... if I single out each one... those that are tangible and capable enough to cause you pain with a simple snap of their sharp tongues, I would be naming the whole cast of devious miscreants so I will limit my comments to the superstars.


- Jude Duarte is the MC you love to see fail and then redeem herself. She happens to be the most humanly flawed, presumptuous, arrogant, hyper motivated, type-A kick ass heroine I have read in a long time and I can't help but root for her to succeed in all her duplicitous endeavors... now her dastardly scheming twin sister on the other hand...


- Jude's stepfather Maddock doesnt have a lot of speaking lines in book 2 but he sure knows how to make himself known and his presence/might felt. Man oh man, he is one slippery, Machiavellian snake in the noxious grasses of Elfhain. He is a proficient player of the game of Kings and Queens and courtly manipulations and how I hope that he and his ilk get what's due them! ::: insert evil cackle :::


- Now Cardan, ohhhhh Cardan... Even though you are one nefarious Fairy, you have kept your place on my list of literary loves (though you are no Will Herondale). We get to know quite a bit of your backstory and oh how it makes me love you all the more. Not that innocent - carve our initials into a tree, holding hands and saying "no I love YOU more" back and forth ad nauseum- kind of love. It's more like the - tortuous, ugly crying into my pillow for days/months/however long it takes because you're a bad boy... a VERY bad boy BUT I saw a side of you I cannot unsee and because of this I will love you until the end of time...or until I come to my senses, whichever comes first- kind of love.


Do you fancy courtly intrigue?? Do you love subplots within plots within schemes that you swear you can foretell yet invariably find out you're way off? Yes? Then settle in, you are in the right place. You will run the emotional gamut, come out the other end wrung dry and STILL crave, beg, plead for more! That is the majesty of Holly Black!


Even after saying all this I fear that I have not properly given Wicked King its due, for I am a mere mortal. Without magic in me I cannot express just how perfect this book is, all I can say is READ THIS!! YOU'LL LOVE-HATE IT!!


~Enjoy

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire--- great addition to the series!

In an Absent Dream - Seanan McGuire

Looking for fair value in an unfair world can lead even the most sensible child to look elsewhere for a place to call Home. What would you do or give up to be seen, truly seen, understood and surrounded by those who see things as you do?

 

This series just keeps getting better and better! I really thought I couldn't be any more impressed. That was until I devoured my preordered copy, the very day it was released, and suddenly I am blown away... again! How can a simple concept such as children who don't easily fit in finding a way to escape their mundane/ill fitting reality only to encounter and enter a fairytale like, alternate, more accepting world give us such a gamut of supremely worthy material? The world building and prose are vivid while the characters are diverse. Ultimately Mrs. McGuire has graciously thought into being new and fantastical worlds that surpass the proceeding ones with imagination too beautiful for words.

 

This one is centered around Katherine Lundy who prefers to be called by her last name only (it's a Goblin Market thing, you'll see). Lundy finds the world she was born to to be unjust, especially with how it treats its children. When she finds her way to the door in the tree that is boldly displaying the words "BE SURE", Lundy has never been so sure of anything in her whole life. This book, based on Rosetti's poem The Goblin Market, has an ethereal and melodic cadence. The writing is simply gorgeous without being too flowery or verbose. The characters are rich, multidimensional and at once relateable. I won't go into anymore detail than that because I went into this one blind, enjoyed every single second of it and believe wholeheartedly that you will too.

 

~Enjoy

Who Are You Calling Weird? by Marilyn Singer

What a beautiful and interesting little book about some unique inhabitants of this wild world we call home! I read this with my capricious 8 year old and she LOVED it! It features animals from all over the globe with vastly different phenotypic and behavioral adaptations that help them live (and thrive) in their particular piece of the planet. The illustrations are gorgeous though the artistry is not only with the graphics but with the plethora of accompanying information about each creature as well. Together they form a one-two punch that was an instant hit in our house! Some of the descriptions are a bit long winded, especially for younger readers, BUT if you have a Little that has a voracious appetite for knowledge (especially for all things zoological and unique) then this book is a wonderful addition to any budding bibliophile's library. My daughter enjoyed making a game out of guessing the animals' identity based on the least amount of description as possible. I truly believe that you too will enjoy learning all about how wonderous, and super powered, these animals are. Who are those furless, bipedal, mammals making all that racket? Why, it's us. We Humans happen to make it onto the strikingly vivid illustrated pages along with some lesser known creatures. I won't ruin which others appear within, you'll just have to check out the book to find out but I highly reccomend you do so.


*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

The People's Republic of Everything by Nick Mamatas

This book... oh this book... I have gone many rounds of mental tug-of-war with myself regarding how to rate this book. To start I must admit that I did not, could not, read all of the stories straight through. The writing was well done. The technique, excellent. BUT the content was so obviously saturated with zealous political ferver, it felt like I was being smacked in the face with a rotting propaganda pamphlet...repeatedly. Can you tell that I don't like politics (unless it's Court Politics) mixing with my favorite leisurely activity? That being said, there were pacing issues and plain old boredom issues so a skimming I went. Man oh man how I skimmed. That's never a good sign! If it weren't for how nicely worded and structured the sentences were I'd have swiftly placed this in the DNF bin. Thanks to the tiny grammar freak residing at my core there was a part of me that enjoyed this solely on the merit of its technique. Accounting for this and the differing tastes of each reader, I bumped the rating up to 3 stars. I know there will be those that will enjoy this book thoroughly but I was not one of them. The humor I originally believed the book would be peppered with was sorely missing and I just didn't enjoy the stories.

 

NOW I must also admit, for what it's worth, that I am not an avid reader of Compilation books. I gave it a shot and dipped my toes in these waters by first inhaling Faster, Stronger and More Beautiful. That book is a compilation of interconnected futuristic vignettes and it opened my eyes to the beauty of the genre. I know it's unfair to compare the two, especially since the content of both books differs so, but I haven't read many other Compilations to help create a baseline. Without a proper pool of literary peers to reference against, F,SaMB ended up being quite influential in my rating and therefore it's in my review.

 

Overall: Will I reread this? No. Will I read more of Nick Mamatas' work? Probably not BUT I will also say that based on the writing alone, others might fall reverently in love with this book and I hope they do. Do I reccomend this? Well, yes I do and I know it might seem contradictory to my review but I truly believe that this has a market... just not in my neighborhood.


*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

Stronger, Faster and More Beautiful- vignettes about the not so distant future, genetic tinkering and where we are headed as a species.. SOOO good!

I listened to Stronger, faster and more beautiful on Audible and I think this format, with different narrators for each part, was the best way to experience this one. Audio books are great for when you need to multitask and flit around doing other things like cleaning the house (or not). Some of these were so good I found myself sitting down and binge listening instead of zipping around and tidying up. Oh well...for me, a dirty house is a fair price to pay if your adventure is worthwhile. It just so happens that this book of intertwined vignettes was imagined so beautifully and written so flawlessly that I couldn't help but fall in love. That's right, I'm not shy about shouting this one out...I LOVED this book! I adored each and every single vignette as well as the book as a whole! BUT It was not a smooth transition from skepticism to Amore. There were quite a few times where I found myself saying "This is messed up!! I DEFINITELY don't like this story. I hope it ends soon" and then when that specific narrative started to wrap up I thought to myself "hey, that was both stunning and poignant!".


The book spotlighted the ever changing personal and societal opinions regarding the Necessity vs. Frivality of biomedical and genetic tinkering/advancements. Each portraiture was slightly more extreme than the last. What is considered acceptable to tinker with? Which modifications are deemed medically necessary (are these even acceptable?) and which are derived from pure vanity and hubris? Are there lines not to be crossed? Where does Religion fit into this and how does that viewpoint influence others? How far would you go to uphold your beliefs? Where are we headed as a species? AND ultimately, are we engineering our own extinction?


Usually I am not one for compilations but this one caught my eye, especially with such a high rating at the time. I just had to see... erm, hear what the fuss was about. Believe me when I say that this interconnected, chronoscopic amalgamation of voices is worth the price and time you'll spend! I really loved the many evolutions within each story: the modifications, each person's/country's perspective, and most of all how/if they perceive each other as fellow "Humanbeings" after all is said and done. I loved to witness the many transformations of the unifying character Reverend Tad. Most interesting was how malleable and slippery his role/possition/ideals and contributions were and what he meant to others.

 

This is a great addition to the Scifi Fantasy genre!! I highly reccomend this book, especially if you're into pondering the pros & cons of biomedical engineering and where we are headed with such advancements becoming more readily available to the masses.

~Enjoy!

Battlestar Suburbia by Chris McCrudden- techie's delight

This book is a robo-apocalypse loving, young teen techie's new favorite read. There were loads of technology centric ideas that were both unique and entertaining. I have 2 main gripes though:

 

#1- Even though the characters were robotic, their development felt needlessly stunted. It was hard to relate or empathize with any of them which sadly left me with a total disconnect on my end.


BUT...


Even with their 2 dimensionalality there were a few pretty cool female archetypes. The robo-women, Pam & the cyborgs too, could have had a series devoted all to themselves and Kelly- one of the humans- (but don't hold that against her) was pretty cool too. I agree with many of the other reviewers, I would have liked more of the ancient cyborg ladies but kudos given for imagining up the whole taboo internet accessing "medium" aspect...AND... the Fondle Parlors where humans "service" the machines in seedy back alley parlors, intimating robo/human prostitution without all of the smutty details described... both scenarios were inventive and fun.

 

Gripe #2- The humor in this book was likened to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy BUT while this was in the same vein (light and airy commentary on the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of society), the actual jokes just didn't do it for me. In fact, though Chris McCrudden may have parodied Douglas Adams, the actual jokes felt forced like they were trying hard at playing it cool.


Ultimately, while the social critiquing was insightful and portrayed in a (slightly) humorous, manner...the levity on a whole missed its mark with me and I didn't laugh out loud or even chuckle inwardly... not once....sounds snobby?? Maybe, BUT I really just want to get across to you how much the synopsis lured me in with promises of a Douglas Adams equal only to turn around and uncerimoniously dump me into "Meh" Town. This will definitely resonate with a niche demographic and I am unfortunately not wholly in that group (though also not completely apart). The synopsis sounded too enticing to pass up but be warned that it isn't for every Douglas Adams fan.

 

**** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ****