I'm conflicted about Artemis.
Did I like it? Yes. It was a fun, fast-paced science fiction novel that, like The Martian, is heavier on the science than the sci fi books I typically read/enjoy. Weir does a good job of presenting science (whether it's legitimate science or fantastical science) in an interesting manner even though sometimes there is a LOT of science explanation. Some of the supporting characters were also quite interesting -- Jazz's father and Rudy the security enforcer to name a few. I found that these supporting characters and the engaging world building of this "city on the moon" drew me into the story fairly early on.
Did I dislike it? Yes. My dislike centers mainly around the central character - Jazz Bashara who is easily one of THE most annoying characters I think I have ever read. She reads more like a prepubescent boy than a twenty-something woman. A dirty joke here and there is one thing...but her entire monologue is one crude joke after another. Her one-liners just become tiresome fairly early on in the plot. I kept hoping Weir would tie her strange characterization into the plot somehow...but it just never materialized.
I found it to be an interesting story...I just don't know if the issues I had with how the main character is portrayed justifies (for me) spending the time to read the story.
My issues with Jazz aside, if you enjoyed The Martian and Weir's writing style then I would recommend you also check out Artemis. This title will be released on November 14, 2017.
A Big thank you to Netgalley for providing this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
I'm not sure what I expected when I picked up The Stars are Legion. I definitely wasn't expecting what I ultimately read. This was much darker than I thought it would be. From gory details to cruel characters, there wasn't much happiness in this book. We are presented with a world that is decaying (not mechanical decay which was my original thought, but organic decay due to a cancer eating through the world ships) and a people at war.
Despite the darkness of the story I found the plot to be compelling. I did find myself wishing for more world building at the beginning of the story. I was about as lost as Zan was at the start of the book... I think that confusion ultimately worked out in the favor of the plot.
All in all, a fun read! Some different concepts (only females in the world, an organic ship/world, asexual reproduction, etc...) make this a more unique sci fi read than some of the others I have read lately.
Hunter's claim by S.E. Smith
Meet Hunter -- an overly large, cat-humanoid-alien dude who is a warrior for his alien species (aka the Trivators) who have recently occupied Earth. Unfortunately, he and his friends (like Dagger and Razor) are really crappy warriors and they fail at just about every mission they go on. It's through one of these failed missions that Hunter is captured and it's up to scrappy, survivalist Jesse to rescue him from his captors.
As thanks (?) for rescuing him, Hunter takes Jesse as Amate (note that it's not as "a mate"...but as "Amate". Original, yes?) which bonds him to her for the rest of his life. He can't seek relief from anyone else...not even from himself (in a so-called "relief room")...except from her. Nice to know that he asked her if she even wanted to be rescued and bonded to him forever before he did it, eh? Oh wait...he didn't ask. He just claimed her as his own and then started walking around naked.
But wait...there's more, folks. Hunter and crew take Jesse and her two sisters (convenient that Hunter has two friends and Jesse has two sisters, isn't it?) to the Trivators' home world...which is pretty much the USA. But in space. At least it seems to be...sadly, not much worldbuilding is done to really set up the Trivators' home world. So we are left to assume it's pretty much like Earth...just with big cat-humanoids and a male-centric society. But good thing everybody speaks English! And good thing there's no culture-shock after being essentially abducted and plopped down in an alien world!
I could go on...but I shan't...just in case you want to read the story. There are a few plot points that I could spoil, so I shall refrain. It's a bad book. It's so bad that it might be entertaining if you are in the mood for a campy read.
It seems as though the Kindle edition wasn't proofed at all. Spelling errors and awkward sentences abound...
I'm definitely disappointed...I was in the mood for a fun "Alien Meets Human" book. Not sure what I got instead...
Time to give a new weekly post a whirl. Introducing "The Weekly Newbie" - a spotlight on an up and coming book that will be released within the next few weeks or months. I'll list the back cover blurb and then a little blurb of my own. Enjoy!
The Ophelia prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher
"The Ophelia Prophecy is the thrilling new sci-fi romance from the author of 2013 RWA RITA finalist Ghost Planet...
Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters -- the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive.
* * *
Asha and Pax -- strangers and enemies -- find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.
Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource -- information -- viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.
Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.
Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.
With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other's secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past."
***Available to buy starting April 1, 2014***
I am pretty excited to check this one out. I have the ARC copy sitting on my Kindle (or would "in my Kindle" be the better grammar?) as I type this and can't wait to get started on it. I'm slightly cautious only because of my tepid response to Ghost Planet - a book, which in hindsight, I did enjoy...except there were so many holes it resembled an aged Swiss Cheese. I enjoy a good sci fi novel...and to throw romance in the mix can only serve to make it better...right? Hope to tackle this one soon!
The Hunger by L.J. Smith
This book celebrates its 20th birthday this year. First published in 1994, The Forbidden Game starts my favorite series from L.J. Smith. In fact, this book has a treasured spot on my "all-time favorites" shelf.
In this first installment of the trilogy, we meet Jenny Thornton who is searching for a fun gift to bring to her boyfriend's party. She stumbles upon a store she never knew existed and meets the store's only employee, the oh-so-gorgeous Julian, who sells her a game in a plain, white box. Once she makes it to the party, however, Jenny thinks she may have made a mistake. Her friends decide to give the game a try, however, and in doing so they begin the fight for their lives.
This book is part Labyrinth and part Jumanji. A young David Bowie can easily be imagined as Julian. And a game coming to life and forcing its players to fight for their lives within the constraint of The Game? Well...that's obviously Jumanji (although I think Jumanji came a short while later?)
If you've enjoyed The Vampire Diaries or The Secret Circle, be sure to check out this other gem from L.J. Smith. This is easily my favorite Smith book/series.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This was an epic, epic book. Ready Player One is pretty much an anthology of all the pop culture references from the 1980s.
I tackled this book in a hybrid form. I snagged the audiobook from my online library without really knowing what it was about - I just knew the book was everywhere. What made me go ahead and pick out the audiobook was because it was read by Wil Wheaton.
Let me just say - Wil Wheaton did a fantastic job with the audiobook. Your enjoyment (or lack thereof) of an audiobook can really hinge on the narrator. Wheaton really was excellent.
So, when I started the audiobook I had no clue what the book was even really about other than the title sounded "gamer-ish". Imagine my surprise when a book chock full of 1980s nostalgia with an engrossing plot emerged.
And when I say the book is chock full of nostalgia...I mean it's crammed into every page, paragraph, and sentence. Cline would throw one reference at you...and then you'd get backhanded by another reference. There were moments it was almost too much. Almost. Cline does a masterful job of combining the 80s nostalgia with the overarching plot...so, the book doesn't devolve into a 1980s trivia game, but rather each piece of nostalgia is part of the whole story. It really is well done.
Unfortunately, I am the world's slowest audiobook listener (this audiobook probably took me a solid 4 weeks to get through) and I ran out of time with the library. But by that point my eyes had been opened and I realized this was definitely a new favorite - so I added the print copy to my library and finished it off within the day.
So what's the book about? I'm going to let the publisher's blurb do the talking on this one. Definitely add this one to your reading bucket list.
Here's the blurb for you:
"It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?"
Assassins In Love by Kris DeLake
So...I read this.
This book is an example of why an author should always choose their book's title with care. When this was picked for a book club selection, I almost didn't touch it with a nine-foot pole. Assassins in Love? Seriously? Plus the guy on the cover with his shirt off while posing with his gun ('cause shirtless gun handling is useful?) was like cheesewhiz icing on an already cheesy cake.
Then I looked at the author and discovered Kris DeLake is actually a pen name for Kristine Kathryn Rusch who happens to be a Hugo award winning author.
The longer I stared at the book, the more I decided "Assassins in Love" wasn't cheesy...it was clever/funny/whatever.
So, I bought it.
And you know what? It wasn't that bad. It was actually pretty good. And I knew exactly what I was going to get with the book -- what's the plot synopsis, you ask? Well, let me tell you. There are two assassins. And they fall in love. Ok, you good? Well, there may be a few more twists and turns to the story than just boy meets girl, but the title is pretty straightforward. DeLake's writing style is very engaging and makes for a quick read. Lots of sexy bits as well...(what did I expect? They're Assassins...and they're In Love...).
So, what did I learn from my Assassins in Love foray? Don't judge a book by its title.
[Read Oct. 2013]
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
You know that moment when you're reading a book and you can feel it sink its claws into you to the point where you are just compelled to read it?
Yeah...totally had that moment with this book. And what's sad is I could have read it last year...but instead it just sat on my shelf waiting for me to pick it up. It's time finally came, however, and now I wish I had picked it up back when I initially bought it.
What a wonderful read! The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is labeled "fantasy", but I might argue it's actually more of a mythology. The story follows Yeine Darr who, after living among her father's people for her whole life, is forced to travel to her mother's homeland to take her place in the succession of the nation's crown. Yeine travels reluctantly as there is no love lost between her and her Grandfather, the ruler of the Arameri nation. Once within the Arameri palace, Sky, Yeine meets Lord Nahadoth (the Dark Lord) and several of his godling children who are all enslaved as weapons to be used by the full-blooded Arameri. As Yeine cultivates complicated relationships with the personified deities and muddles through her newfound world of politics, she discovers that the path to her inheritance is much more complicated than she ever would have thought.
I found the story to be utterly absorbing. Could it have been more complex and intricate? Definitely. But, for the amount of plot within the story, I thought the amount of politics to be in good proportion. It seems that several fantasy authors tend to put TOO much politics into their writing in an attempt to further develop the world. I'm not saying that approach is bad...I'm just saying that I don't prefer a lot of politics - it can bog the story down.
The world building was a little weak as well and I want to know so much more about this world. I wish there was a map in the front of the book... I take comfort in the fact that this is the first in a trilogy and based on the description of the next installment, I think the world building will be expanded upon.
I loved this book.
[Read Oct. 2013]
Amaryllis by Jayne Castle
Maybe it was the "InstaLove"? Maybe it was the crappy world building? Maybe it was the utter predictability of the story line? Maybe it was the copious amounts of jelly-ice?
Whatever it was - I. Could. Not. Stand. This. Book.
I only finished it because I was stuck in the car for 6+ hours and had packed my alternate books. Wow, this was not a winner for me.
Amaryllis takes place on a remote planet, St. Helen, that is closed off from earth. Forced to adapt to the planet that's remarkably like earth (except for the extremely handy plot twist that all advanced earth technology doesn't work and disintegrates on St. Helen), the human residents find themselves developing supernatural-like talents. These talents work in tandem with prisms (which also develop in certain people) that focus the talents to accomplish a specific goal. Amaryllis Lark, a professional prism contracts a job with sexy CEO Lucas Trent - who happens to be a talent with off the chart power. They quickly find themselves mixing business with pleasure as they embark on a steamy (jelly-ice filled?) love affair. Throw in a potential murder and Amaryllis and Lucas are in for a wild and bumpy ride full of jelly-ice and arranged marriage agencies.
Ok, so here are my issues with this book:
a) There was no character development. Telling me that Amaryllis is a stuffy, prim-and-proper Prism isn't developing her character. It's just giving me a description. I need more - SHOW me that Amaryllis is prim and proper. 'Cause seeing her rip off her shirt for Lucas in, like, chapter two isn't indicative of a prim and proper character...
b) Attack of the InstaLove! Ugh. I hate InstaLove. I don't know why authors think that you can introduce two characters, not develop them any, and then think it's ok to have them suddenly in love. In the second chapter. Nope...doesn't work for me. I don't buy it.
c) Jelly Ice. What a horrible name for anything. All I can picture is a jello jiggler shaking it's jelly ice bottom at me. Ick.
d) World building - or lack thereof in this case. I'm sorry, but you can't explain it as "it's a new world...but the same as earth...except that it's not because all convenient technology disintegrates". That's not world building...that's making it easier for you to include crappy substitutes like "jelly ice" and not develop it any further. I think if Castle could have spent a little bit longer fleshing things out, she could have created a really fun world. Instead it's two-dimensional and seems to be a lazy way out of thinking through the world building process.
e) Foreshadowing, anyone? It was super easy to peg whodunit and why WAY early on in the story. Maybe some non-essential characters would have helped add mystery to the story? I don't know...
So why, if I hated it so much, did I give it two gnomes? Well...I only did that because I have read some of Jane Ann Krentz's other stuff under various other pseudonyms (she has so many!) and enjoyed it just fine AND I am remotely curious about the other two heroes that were briefly mentioned in Amaryllis...so two gnomes because I have a small inclination to read at least one more...jelly ice and all.
[Read Sept. 2013]
Lover Awakened by J.R. Ward
I liked but most definitely did not love the first two books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood...but Holy Zsadist, I loved Lover Awakened!
Ok, but before I go into all that - let me just say that adding the extra letters [like the "Z" in Zsadist...or the "H" in "ahvenge"...so on and so forth] DRIVES ME CRAZY. Also, the copious mentions of "shit-kickers", "leathers", and 50 Cent/G-Unit are just plain ridiculous. Ok, so these guys are bad asses. Got it. Can we just say..."Hey, the BDB are badasses...just wanted to let you know" and be done with it? I also can't stand the "what's doing, my brother?" or the other fake-jock-fratboy speak that Ward throws into the dialogue. What Ward is doing with all of this just seems like a cheap way to add pseudo-depth to the characters and cheap way to manufacture cohesiveness among the BDB. It doesn't work for me...rather than provide depth, I just laugh out loud and get thrown out of the story. And I shudder to think that it will be like this for the whole multi-book series. That's a lot of shit kickers, leathers and out of date rap music...you feel me, my brother? Sigh...
So, despite the shit kickers and leathers - I loved Zsadist as a character and I loved the story between him and Bella. I also enjoyed the background stories that are building up as well - I think there may be some good books coming up in my BDB future. Unfortunately, I had had some spoilerage happen regarding Wellsie and John so I wasn't too surprised by those developments [and I shan't say anymore about those plot points lest I spoil it for somebody else]. I think if I hadn't been aware of what was going to happen on those fronts I would have loved this book even more.
I am slightly worried about the future books I have yet to read...I was most interested in Zsadist and now I've read his book so...am I going to be as invested in the other BDBrothers? I don't know...I've looked ahead and see the next one is about Butch which is the character I (as of right now) care the least about so...we'll see. I am curious as to John's story and Phury's story...so hopefully those are in my future as well.
Looks like there will be more BDB in my future - here's to hoping they are all on Zsadist's level or higher.
[Read Sept. 2013]
Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
I know I'm kind of late to the game with this series - but I really enjoyed Blood Bound! Such a fun read!
In Blood Bound, Stefan the vampire calls in the favor Mercy owes him and the two of them go off after a serial-killing vampire who seems more ruthless than usual for a vampire. Shifted as a coyote, Mercy discovers that the evil vampire they are tracking is actual a demon-possessed-sorcerer-vampire which spells trouble for the whole community - for regular humans and supernaturals alike.
Briggs definitely sets up a bit of a love...triangle?...quadrangle?...well, whatever it is, it's shaping up to be a hot mess. I usually am rooting for a specific party to win the romance war, yet with this series I am as of yet undetermined. I would be ok with any of the guys winning Mercy's affection...and I would NOT be ok with any of the guys being left out...so it's shaping up to be an interesting read as the series progresses.
The Mercy Thompson has some flavors of the Sookie Stackhouse novels (I'm not sure which series came first?)in that there are vampires, werewolves, and shifters (oh my!)...yet the characters are SO. MUCH. BETTER. I just can't stand Sookie or Harris' writing (hence why I gave up mid-series on that one)...but I really enjoy Mercy Thompson and crew. Mercy isn't your average female lead and it's nice to have a lead character who doesn't quite fit the average heroine mold. I like the world Briggs has constructed as well - she tries to make her world blend seamlessly into the world as we know it and I think she does a pretty good job with it.
Definitely a great read in a great series that will scratch that paranormal fantasy itch you have.
[Read Sept. 2013]