The Book of Ralph

“Drink Diet Coke”

When this message first appears on the moon, everyone believes that Coca Cola has created the most brilliant media campaign on earth...or should I say, the moon.

Unbeknownst to us, Ralph, an alien, is trying to convey an urgent message that Earth is in grave danger.

The Book of Ralph is a mixture of themes.  Initially, the hi-jinks created by Ralph, the alien, are quite humours and made me chuckle, until the story turned a bit more serious with lectures about humanity and war.

This is a tough book to rate because the story itself turned out to be quite different from the description on the book jacket.  I was expecting a humours and lighthearted novel, and it was that, in the beginning. The second half of the book was much darker with the reality of what happens after war.  

Overall I did enjoy reading The Book of Ralph, and the unique story that Christopher Steinsvold wrote, but I found that I wished it was the comedy I was anticipating.  I do recommend reading The Book of Ralph though, it is a very interesting story with some unique insight, just don’t expect a comedic book.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of  The Book of Ralph in exchange for an honest review.  

Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)
By ~ Sylvain Neuvel

sleeping-giants-cover

Sleeping Giants has been on my to read list for a few years.  All three books in this trilogy have now been released, and boy am I sure glad that I waited because once I finished Sleeping Giants, I immediately downloaded Waking Gods, the second book in the Themis Files series.  It was way past my bedtime, but I didn’t care.

Synopsis ~ When Rose Franklin was a young girl, she discovered, by accident, a giant metal hand that was buried beneath the earth for thousands of years.  Through various circumstances, twenty years later, Rose finds herself tasked with the scientific study and research of the hand, and the discovery of the body the hand belongs to.

Sleeping Giants kept me entertained throughout, from the opening lines right to the end.  It reads as journal entries and interviews to tell the story. I found it to be a unique and interesting way to tell the narrative.  Somehow this form of telling the story, made me feel as if I really got to know the main characters and I am now invested in them and their continuing story.

This book had one of my favourite things going for it that I always hope for when reading.  The desire to read it ALL THE TIME and not put it down. I found myself a number of times continuing to read after getting off the bus, with the book up in my nose while walking down the sidewalk.  My favourite books are the ones I can't put down.

Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky

Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky: A Modern Baker's Guide to Old-Fashioned Desserts
By ~ Karlynn Johnston

flapper-pie-cookbook

Another cookbook review you ask?  Well yes, as you know, if you've been reading my Random Musings blog posts, I've been doing a lot more cooking and baking lately as part of my A New Year New Challenge Experiments.  The month of January was filled with researching and purchasing a number of different cookbooks and Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky was one of those cookbooks.

What is the point in spending money of these various cookbooks without actually reading them?  Yes, I've been actually making my way through the cookbooks I've purchased, reading not only the recipes but the stories provided by the authors.

The reason I purchased this book is solely because of the Flapper Pie recipe.  Prior to stumbling upon this book on Amazon, I have never heard of Karlynn Johnston, her blog The Kitchen Magpie, or her amazing Flapper Pie recipe.  If the only thing I gain from my New Year New Challenge Experiment is the discovery of this Flapper Pie recipe, it will be worth it (note: I've already gained a lot from this experiment, the Flapper Pie is just an extra bonus).

To date I have tried four of the recipes from this book, and all of them have turned out delicious.  Two pie recipes (Flapper and Buttermilk) and two doughnut recipes.  If the rest of the recipes in this book are as good as the first four I've tried, I will have stumbled upon a great find.  Full of Canadian bakes, Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky is a colourful dessert cookbook with pictures of every bake.  I think that all cookbooks should have pictures of the completed food, don't you?

 

A Review of Amber Eyes

Amber Eyes (Children of the Blood Moon #2) 
By ~ S. D. Grimm

I was very excited to have been invited to read and review Amber Eyes as part of the blog tour hosted by Unicorn Quester.  This young adult fantasy series has a lot going for it; action, adventure, magic, family, friendship.  Amber Eyes is the second in a three-part series, starting with Scarlet Moon and ending with Black Blood, which will be released January 2019. 

I had not heard of this series prior to being invited to the blog tour and I needed to do some catching up in order to review Amber Eyes.  I started with reading Scarlet Moon first so that I would have a background of the characters, the world and the story in general before reading Amber Eyes.  I'm glad to say that after reading two of the Children of the Blood Moon series back to back is that I could easily read the third right away, if it was available, as I am not yet tired of this world.  S.D. Grimm has created an incredibly interesting universe filled with magic and friendship.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Darkness retreated from the light of the scarlet moon, but has since grown even stronger. The Mistress of Shadows has found a new pawn—one that may be the key to unlocking the door to her underground prison. Now evil threatens to escape its shackles and destroy the land. 

In the aftermath of loss and betrayal, Jayden’s fight with the enemy still isn’t over. But while she isn’t sure she can stop the Mistress alone, leaving her friends might be the only way to keep them from being consumed by the darkness.  

With lives hanging in the balance—and no time for error—can Jayden make the right choice?

While I enjoyed reading Amber Eyes, there were just one very minor thing that I personally  didn't like.  Teen Angst.  For myself I find that a lot of young adult novels are filled with teen angst and it is overwhelming for me to read as an adult.  I’ve been there and experienced those feelings and I don't need to relive it through fictional characters, however that is my personal feeling of teen angst.  I think that if I read this as a teen I would really relate to the situations and feelings the characters were experiencing.  While Amber Eyes had a bit too much teen angst for me, it wasn't the entire story, and Grimm also included themes about perceived personal failings, family and friendship.

That being said, the characters experienced a lot of personal growth during Amber Eyes, so I was able to understand that this teen angst was there to provide them with the emotions needed to grow as a character.  I look forward to seeing how this growth expands in the last book, Black Blood.

Amber Eyes also has just the right level of fantasy.  I really felt like I could imagine the world that this story took place in and I think that even someone who isn't necessarily into fantasy would enjoy reading Amber Eyes, and The Children of the Blood Moon series in general.  With common enough characters names and limited amount of made-up words, it is very easy to imagine this world filled with magic, and yet not become overwhelmed with a bunch of names places and things that exist in the authors imagination.  

I enjoyed Amber Eyes, and I look forward to coming back to this series when Black Moon comes out.  

If you would like to check other reviews of Amber Eyes and author interviews I encourage you to check out the rest of the bloggers on the tour.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Scarlet Moon and Amber Eyes in exchange for an honest review.  

 

To Purchase Amber Eyes in Canada

AmazonChapters

 

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 22nd Tuesday, January 23rd Wednesday, January 24th Thursday, January 25th Friday, January 26th Saturday, January 27th Monday, January 29th Tuesday, January 30th Wednesday, January 31st Thursday, February 1st Friday, February 2nd Saturday, February 3rd Monday, February 5th

Year In Review ~ 2017

 Christmas Tree Corner ~ 2017

Christmas Tree Corner ~ 2017

It always amazes me when yet another year has passed.  I never really know where the time goes, but I sure do use it up.  2017 is the year that I launched my website.  While I haven't done a lot with it yet, I have enjoyed what I've done so far (and I hope my readers have too).

For my "year in review", I decided to revisit just a few of the books I read this year.  If you want to read all my reviews for 2017, well you can easily do that by looking in the archive section of this site, but for this particular post, I wanted to touch back onto a few books that really impacted me in one way or the other.

Some of these books I have written reviews on already, and others, I just read without the intention of writing a review, so they will be the first time I've mentioned them on this site.

The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X  by Keigo Higashino was the very first book that I reviewed on my site and 10 months later I'm still thinking about it.  From the opening pages of the book, where you witness the murder take place, knowing who the murderer is, to the last lines of the book, I was completely engaged.  This is by far one of the best murder mysteries that I've read to date and I was surprised how Higashino was able to keep me engaged despite the fact I knew who the murderer was.  The Devotion of Suspect X has a very unique take on a murder mystery, and one that I would encourage anyone to give a chance to.

Syndrome E

Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez is the second foreign language book I read this year after The Devotion of Suspect X, and it is the second murder investigation thriller that I thought was fantastic.

Syndrome E is the third book in the Franck Sharko series, but the first one to be translated into English, however, I didn't feel like I was lost while reading this book.  Although I would like to read the first two books in the series, just to completely round out the characters, it wasn't necessary to follow along in the story while reading Syndrome E.  

With some surprising twists in the story, Syndrome E travels the globe to solve it's mystery, which just gets more and more intriguing as you read along.  Another must read.

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin has to be one of the most uniquely written novels I've read so far.  Written in the second person, The Fifth Season takes a little getting used to, and honestly if it wasn't for the review I read on Goodreads by Rick Riordan, I don't think I would have gotten passed the strangeness of reading in the second person. This would have been my loss as I turned out to love The Fifth Season.

Recommended to my book-club by my friend and author, H. G. Bells, this is one book that I'm pretty sure I would not have discovered without the recommendation of someone I knew and respected. Taking place in a world where people, called orogenes, have the ability to control the earth.  Both feared and revered, orogenes are controlled by the governmental powers and have little say in their own lives.  They are tasked with controlling the seismic activity of the planet in order to steam off near-extinction level earthquakes.

Read The Fifth Season, and give yourself until at least page 50 before you put it down.  Reading in the second person takes some time getting used to, but believe me when I say, in this case it's totally worth it.

Heart and Brain: Body Language: An Awkward Yeti Collection

If you have never heard of The Awkward Yeti, do yourself a favour and check out creator, Nick Seluk's site, go ahead, do it now...you can thank me later.

You can read my original review of Heart and Brain: Body Language or you can just trust me when I say that somehow Nick Seluk knows exactly what you are thinking and when you are thinking it, and then draws it out using the characters Heart and Brain as well as a host of other organs.  

Full of laughs, I loved this book from cover to cover.

Earls The Cookbook

I debated a little bit whether to include the Earls The Cookbook or not.  Why the debate you ask?  Well, this it isn't an actual novel, but rather a cookbook.  That being said, there is a bit of a story in the book itself on how Earls came about back in the eighties, and each recipe includes a little bit of a description on how it was created or where the inspiration for the recipe came from.

In the end I decided to include Earls The Cookbook in my year in review post because I LOVE IT!  I've been wanting this cookbook for a while now, since I love eating at Earls, and this year for Christmas, Michael got it for me.

 Homemade Focaccia Bread ~ Recipe from Earls The Cookbook

Homemade Focaccia Bread ~ Recipe from Earls The Cookbook

So far I've tried two of the recipes, the Focaccia bread and the Alfredo sauce, and both turned out perfectly and tasted just the same as eating at Earls. I've also learned about making rice for stir-fries, and I think I now know why my rice for stir-fries never turns out even close to how it is as restaurants (I believe I've been under-cooking the rice and not drying it out).

There are a bunch of other recipes that I will be trying out in the next little while, including my regular order whenever I eat at Earls, the Santa Fe Chicken Salad with a side order of warm potato salad.  

While some of the recipes do require a little bit of prep-work, I haven't found any of the recipes to be outside my level of comfort, and even the rarer ingredients have an explanation on where you can purchase them.  I think this would be a great cookbook for any level with some simple recipes for newbie cooks and some delightful flavours that would entertain even accomplished chefs,

Having read a cookbook cover to cover and already enjoying some of the recipes in the few days I've owned it, Earls The Cookbook deserves to be included in my year in review.

Decorated cookies from my annual cookie decorating party ~ 2017

That's it, my most favourite books of the year.  While I have enjoyed many other books in 2017, these five books have had the most impact on my year.  I look forward to finding out what books will have the most impact on me in 2018.

 

 

A Vision of Fire

A Vision of Fire (The Earthend Saga #1)
Authors ~ Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin

As probably most people who will have randomly come across A Vision of Fire, I picked up this book because of Gillian Anderson.

If you've never heard of Gillian Anderson before, well you are definitely not a child of the 90's with a nostalgia of The X-Files

I live in Vancouver, BC, where The X-Files was originally filmed and I distinctly remember watching the show with my mom and on nights when I was babysitting.   So yes, an old love of Dana Scully and Fox Mulder is what propelled me to read this book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O’Hara is a single mom trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lackluster dating life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India’s ambassador to the United Nations, starts speaking in tongues and having violent visions. Caitlin is sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father—a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels—but when teenagers around the world start having similar outbursts, Caitlin begins to think that there’s a more sinister force at work. 

In Haiti, a student claws at her throat, drowning on dry land. In Iran, a boy suddenly and inexplicably sets himself on fire. Animals, too, are acting irrationally, from rats in New York City to birds in South America to ordinary house pets. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe to uncover the mystical links among these seemingly unrelated incidents in order to save her patient—and perhaps the world.

A Vision of Fire isn't a great book, but neither is it a bad book.  It's mediocre in everything it does.  From combining Norse, Voodoo and Aliens, to Caitlin O'Hara having a deaf son who provides her with the ability to understand unspoken languages, A Vision of Fire tries to do to much and doesn't really succeed with anything.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading A Vision of Fire, I did, but it isn't a great book, it's just middle of the road, something to read in-between other more exciting books.  

 

The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 3

This review is the third part of a three part series of reviews of The Gray Tower Trilogy.

Please note that by reading this review, there may some very minor spoilers for book 1 and 2 of The Gray Tower Trilogy (The Tower's Alchemist & Dark Rift) if you haven't read them yet.

Circadian Circle (THE GRAY TOWER TRILOGY #3)
AUTHOR ~ Alesha Escobar

The third and final book of The Gray Tower Trilogy, Circadian Circle is full of intense magical action from start to finish.

Demons.
Nazis.
Dragons.
Time Shifting Wizards.

Isabella George has a lot on her hands to keep the wizards of The Gray Tower together and defeat the bad guys in this action packed conclusion to The Gray Tower Trilogy.

When I say action packed, I really mean it.  The majority of this Circadian Circle is one action scene to the next.  Quite often when a novel has to much action in it, and not enough story, I tend to gloss over the action bits, getting bored with reading, how yet again, the protagonist defeats the antagonist, but in this case, I was ok with the extensive action and enjoyed it.

I think I enjoyed the heavy action in Circadian Circle because the previous two novels (The Tower's Alchemist & Dark Rift) did a wonderful job of building the story and the world that it takes place in.  When it came time for the final action packed booked, I was heavily invested in the characters, both good and bad, and wanted to find out what would happen to them and I felt the action was a benefit to the story, expanding on what I already knew, as opposed to using action to gloss over the fact that the characters are not well rounded.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and the series as a whole.  It was a fun and entertaining read, the characters had growth over the series and there was a satisfying ending.  

 

The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 2

This review is the second part of a three part series of reviews of The Gray Tower Trilogy.  

Please note that by reading this review, there may some very minor spoilers for book 1 of The Gray Tower Trilogy (The Tower's Alchemist) if you haven't read it yet.

Dark Rift (THE GRAY TOWER TRILOGY #2)
AUTHOR ~ ALESHA ESCOBAR

Dark Rift takes place almost immediately after the events in The Tower's Alchemist, at the most, a few weeks have passed and I think I enjoyed Dark Rift even more than The Tower's Alchemist.

As with any sequel, reading the synopsis of the next books prior to reading the first book, there are potential spoilers.  I've tried to be very vague with my synopsis but if you are a purest and don't want any spoilers for The Tower's Alchemist, you might want to skip reading the rest of this review.

Synopsis

Amidst the terror of World War II, there is another battle going on, between the Nazi warlock vampires and the wizards of The Gray Tower.  

The Nazi warlocks want to get their hands on the Drifter aka: The Time Wizard as they believe that the Drifter will provide them with ultimate power and The Gray Tower wants to destroy the Drifter so no one can have this power.

Isabella George, an alchemist trained by the Gray Tower knows the identity of the Drifter and and believes that The Gray Tower is wrong to destroy the Drifter.

Isabella sets of to prove to the other wizards of The Gray Tower that the Drifter is an ally and could help to bring about the end of the war.

The second instalment of The Gray Tower Trilogy left me wanting even more than the first instalment.  The characters were well rounded and very interestingly written.  They are all also very multi-faceted, the good guys were not just goodie-too-shoes, they had depth to them that wasn't just black and white.  

Two books in, that I read back-to-back, and I was still eager to get started on the third book, Circadian Circle the moment I finished Dark Rift.  To me that is always the sign of an enjoyable story.

 

 

The Gray Tower Trilogy ~ Part 1

This review is the first part of a three part series of reviewsof The Gray Tower Trilogy.

The Tower's Alchemist (The Gray Tower Trilogy #1)
Author ~ Alesha Escobar

The Tower's Alchemist has one of the most ridiculous synopsis I've read for a book in a long time. 

Wizards Vs. Nazi Warlock Vampires.

Yup, you read that correctly, Nazi warlock vampires.   I received this book in a witchy Story Bundle I purchased in May 2017 and I have to honestly say that I would have been unlikely to read this book had I just come across it on my own, the premise just sound ridiculous.  Boy, I sure would have missed out on a FANTASTIC read.

Goodreads Synopsis:
The Nazis have unleashed occult forces throughout Europe and the Allies are forced to recruit and employ wizards to counter their attacks. Among them is the battle weary spy, Isabella George, a Gray Tower dropout trained in Alchemy. Longing for retirement and a life of peace, she accepts one final job-extract a deadly warlock from Nazi occupied France and prevent him from unleashing an alchemical weapon that will devour the continent.
But France is crawling with the Cruenti, vampiric warlocks who feed off other wizards. When things don't go according to plan, one Cruenti sets his deadly eyes on her.
Betrayal is everywhere. Even some of her closest allies cannot be fully trusted. Worse still, she finds, she can't even trust herself. She becomes a woman torn between her charismatic spy lover who offers her what she desires most, and one of her closest confidants, whose soft seductive eyes hold deadly secrets about her past, and the Gray Tower itself.
Plans within plans. Plots versus counter plots. Heists gone wrong, sword-wielding Catholic priests, and the greatest manipulation of history that has ever been seen, is just a taste of what Isabella George is in for, in her final mission.

Thank you Story Bundle to introducing me to author Alesha Escobar and The Gray Tower Trilogy.  The ridiculous synopsis of Nazi warlock vampires is really well done.  Hitler had an obsession with for the occult so it would make sense, in a world where wizards and magic existed, that Hitler would have Nazi warlocks on his side.

In researching spy's during World War II, Escobar discovered some pretty amazing women who went undercover and helped the Allies ultimately win the war.  Bits and pieces of these women, and their accomplishments, shine through in The Tower's Alchemist and you feel like they could have been real people.

All of the characters in the story are very intriguing.  Good, bad, neutral, I was fascinated with all of them and really wanted to know what what going to happen to them.  

I sure am glad that I gave The Tower's Alchemist a try and I'm extra glad that I happen to have the second and third books in this trilogy as I immediately started Dark Rift (the second in the series) once I finished The Tower's Alchemist

 

Origin

Origin (Robert Langdon #5)
Author ~ Dan Brown

By the author that brought you the world-wide sensation, The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown has another home run with his latest Robert Langdon adventure, Origin.

Robert Langdon finds himself at the Guggenheim Museum, invited to an extraordinary scientificpresentation presented by his former student, Edmond Kirsch.  With religious and scientific repercussions, Kirsch has discovered the answer to the age old question of Where do we come from?
Where are we going?  
Moments before the big reveal, the evening erupts into chaos and Langdon finds himself forced to flee the Guggenheim, with the museum coordinator and future queen consort of Spain, Ambra Vidal, in tow.

Aided by Kirsch's assistant, Winston, Langdon and Vidal must find a way to help Kirsch to reveal his secrets to the world.  

I was a little hesitant to get back into the Robert Langdon world.  I didn't much like the last book in this series, and felt that it was a little too outrageous and over the top.  I wasn't expecting much from Origin, but I surprised myself by liking it.  

Origin is a popcorn book, plain and simple.  If you are expecting any more depth to this book, you will be sadly disappointed, but if you are going in, knowing that it's going to be just a little ridiculous, just a little silly and a whole lot of "that would never happen in the real world", Origin will be a fun read.  

With a few twists and turns Origin is a fun read and if you have enjoyed Dan Brown's other books in the Robert Langdon series, Origin is a very good addition and you will surely enjoy it too.

Contact

Contact
Author ~ Carl Sagan

Contact is one of those books that has been on my TRL for years and years, but also one of those books that I have put off reading for ages.    

A Signal has been detected in the vicinity of the star Vega.  It is intelligent life?  Is it god?  We don't know, but with this signal, the course of human history is forever changed.

For a science fiction book written by scientist, Carl Sagan, I was surprised that Contact explored more than just the possibility of life in other parts of the universe.  Contact explored how that life would effect the religious communities of Earth.  

I don't know why this surprised me, I guess I was expecting a fun novel about the possibility of life outer-space, instead I read a novel that used the fictional story as a way to deliver questions about other live and how if would impact religions here on earth.  It really felt that the characters in the story were the vehicle that Carl Sagan was driving to explore his own thoughts about religion.

I enjoyed reading Contact, it just wasn't the space adventure alien story I was expecting to read.  

 

 

Annihilation

Annihilation-Cover

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1)
Author ~ Jeff Vandermeer

In the upcoming weeks and months you are going to start reading and hearing more about Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer because it has been turned into a movie, starting Natalie Portman.  I actually had no idea that it was turning into a movie.  I found out about this book from a friend and it sounded interesting when I read the synopsis.  It was only when I was about half-way through the book that the teaser trailer for Annihilation dropped.

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world by a gigantic invisible barrier.  Inside Area X is a vast wilderness of pristine condition. 

Since the time Area X was cut off from the rest of civilization, expeditions have been sent to explore the area.  They have not gone well.  Mass suicide, attacks from strange creatures, gunfire as members turned on one another, some explorers returning as shells of their former selves, riddled with cancer.

Four women, with no names, only referring to themselves as their job descriptions; anthropologist; surveyor; psychologist; biologist, make up the twelfth expedition.

The secrets they uncover will change them and everything they know.

For the most part, I found Annihilation an interesting yet boring read.  Nothing happens, yet a lot happens, just very slowly and only to past characters not really in this story.  The narrator of the story is "The Biologist", and she spends a lot of her time in her head, thinking.  Thinking about her past, thinking about her trip to Area X, thinking about what's happening there...always thinking.  

This is one of those books that make you ask a whole bunch of questions about who, what, where, when, why, but it never actually answer's anything.  I have a feeling that this might be one of those few times where the movie will be better than the book (my most favourite example of this is Forrest Gump.  The movie was WAY better than the book).

I'm interested in watching the movie when it does come out and compare the two of them to each other.  I have no plans on reading the two follow-up books to this series, maybe they would answer the questions that Annihilation made me ask, but I'm not driven to find out those answeres, at least, not at this time.

 

Heart and Brain

heart-brain-body-language-cover

Heart and Brain: Body Language
Author ~ The Awkward Yeti aka Nick Seluk

I LOVE The Awkward Yeti.  It is my favourite comic series and I can never get enough of them.  

Heart and Brain are two of the characters from The Awkward Yeti series.  The main series features a blue Yeti names Lars and Nick Seluk created a kind of spin-off series, Heart & Brain.  Featuring Lars's organs.  

This really is the best comic series out there, almost every single comic will illicit at least a smile on my face, if not genuine out loud laughter.  

Heart and Brain: Body Language was awesome to read.  A collection of mostly new comics and a few previously seen classics, I think it was my favourite of the three books Seluk has put out so far.  I love all the organs and their antics and since my gallbladder was removed, I have an extra special fondness for Sad Gallbladder, having even designed and crafted my own Sad Gallbladder cross stitch.

Full of out-loud laughter, Heart and Brain: Body Language imagines what your organs would be like if they had their own personalities.  I was planning on only flipping through a few pages, slowly taking my time through the book, but I just couldn't resist reading the entire thing in one sitting.  

This is one of those books that you will read again and again, always finding new humour in it. 

All Systems Red

all-systems-red-cover

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)
Author ~ Martha Wells

As I was reading All Systems Red by Martha Wells, I can honestly say that I didn't realize what this book was actually called and I kept referring to it as "the murderbot book".  This was a quick read, written up as a novella, that I very much enjoyed.

In a future, taken over by corporations, a group of scientists are exploring a new world.  The corporations provide security in the form of a company security droid.  

While on a mission, one particular security droid has become self-aware and has hacked it's own governor module.  Referring to itself as "Murderbot" all this unit wants to do is be left alone to watch the soap opera; Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon.

I really loved the Murderbot.  While there was no specific gender to the Murderbot, I definitely thought of it as female when I was reading the story.  Full of cynicism and quick wit, Murderbot was a story that I was sad to see end so quickly.  All the Murderbot wanted to do was to be left alone, not interacting with humans and watch soaps.  I think everyone can relate to Murderbot and just sometimes wanting to be left alone, and not worry about working.

Honestly my only real complaint about All Systems Red is that the story was written as a novella.  Usually not my favourite things because I find that the story ends so quickly, or just as you are getting into the characters and situations the story is over.  Well's did a fantastic job writing All Systems Red though.  It is a complete story, and I wasn't left feeling that I was missing something.  I just wanted to read more about Murderbot and it's story.  Thankfully there is a sequel (Artificial Condition) coming out May 2018, which you can pre-order on Amazon.

It's been a while

It has been a busy few weeks.  Since it was summer, I was in and out of town, filling out a huge pile of paperwork and generally complacent in updating this site.  I now finally have a little bit of time, and energy to let you kind readers know what I've been reading lately.

I haven't read a lot in the last month and I've been feeling kind of slovenly because of this.  The last few weeks found me watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  I made it all the way to season 3 before my obsession of watching the show waned a bit.  So in the meantime I only found time to read four books.  

  • Artemis by Andy Weir (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • Paradox Bound by Peter Clines (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • When you Disappeared by John Marrs (ARC provided by Netgalley)
  • Rituals (Cainsville, #5) by Kelley Armstrong
  • The Ghost Line by Andrew Neil Gray

Reviews!

artemis-cover

Artemis
Author ~ Andy Weir

Artemis is the newest novel by Andy Weir (The Martian).  To say I was excited about Artemis is an understatement.  The Martian was a great novel, with lots of humour, that I really enjoyed so I had high hopes for Artemis.  Unfortunately, I didn't like it.

Jazz Bashara lives on the first and only city on the moon.  As a way of making ends meat, she smuggles in the occasional bit of contraband.  When Jazz receives a request that is too lucrative to turn down, she stumbles into a conspiracy to overtake control of Artemis, the moon city.

Artemis was well written, and I could tell that a lot of time and research went into the science side of the book, and overall the story wasn't that bad, but the main character, Jazz Bashara, ugh.  I just found that she had zero redeeming qualities.  It wasn't until the very very end of the book where you actually found out her motivations.  

Aside from my dislike of Jazz, the overall story was interesting and entertaining.  This is nothing like The Martian though, so don't start reading this novel thinking that you are going to find a similar story.  

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

paradox-bound-cover

Paradox Bound
Author ~ Peter Clines

I had a hard time getting in Peter Clines most recent novel, Paradox Bound.  

Time Travelling through American History, Eli and Harry are on the search for the "American Dream".  In this case, the "American Dream" is a literal object, created by the founding fathers of the United States of America and lost for the past sixty years.

I usually like Peter Clines's novels, but I think with the current state of the USA, constantly being in the news, it's dotard leader and now on the brink of war with North Korea, this was just a bit to much America for me.  I did enjoy that this is set in the same world as two of Clines other novels, 14 and The Fold, but unless you read those two novel, the one sentence that lets you know this is the same world, would be glossed right over by other readers.

I look forward to Peter Clines's next novel, but this one just wasn't for me.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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When you Disappeared
Author ~ John Marrs

After a couple of dud books I was reluctant to start yet another ARC from Netgalley, however, When you Disappeared by John Marrs hooked me immediately.

Catherine wakes up one morning, her husband, Simon, is gone.  Thinking he was out for a run then off to work, Catherine didn't worry about him until his colleague called her looking for him.  

Meanwhile, Simon is alive and well, having left his family because he knows the truth about the life they had lead.  Alive and thriving, Simon is doing whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of his past.

Twenty-Five year later, when Simon shows up on her doorstep, Catherine is finally introduce to the man Simon is, and she wished she never met him.

When I finished this book, my first thought was just, wow.  I really enjoyed this book, which was great since the last two books I had read were not my favourites (Artemis & Paradox Bound).

I also found the way it was written well done.  The story took place in "the now" with past memories of Catherine and Simon being told to each other.  It was a very effective piece of storytelling that I throughly enjoyed.  

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Rituals (Cainsville, #5)
Author ~ Kelley Armstrong

My popcorn novel.  I've been really enjoying the Cainsville series from Kelley Armstrong.  If you haven't read the first 4 in this series, don't bother reading Rituals, as you will be totally lost, and instead start at the beginning.

Olivia Jones must make a choice between two rival supernatural forces.  

I've enjoyed all of the books in this series and Rituals was no exception.  I do wonder how many books Kelley Armstrong has planed for this series because as I was reading Rituals, I could feel the story start to wind is way up.  It is by no means complete and there are still a lot on unanswered questions, and new questions that have appeared, but I suspect there will only be 2 or 3 more books in this series.

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The Ghost Line
Author ~ Andrew Neil Gray

I purchased this book on recommendation email from Amazon.  The Ghost Line was a surprising read, and quite quick.  It only took me a few hours to read it, but it was an intriguing story.  

The Martian Queen is a mothballed ship when Saga and Michel are hired to hack into it and changes it's course, effectively destroying the ship and openings up the shipping lane it has been occupying. 

Expecting an easy payday, Saga and Michel end up stranded aboard the Martian Queen, fighting to maintain their humanity and find their way back home.

The Ghost Line would make an excellent movie.  The story is pretty simple but also interesting.  It has a little bit of mystery, that isn't easily discoverable until it is revealed to you by the author.  I enjoyed reading this one.


I feel that this particular post is a little lacking in depth, but I also wanted to get something out to the readers of this website.  It's been a while since I've posted anything, and I kind of figured something was better than nothing.  If you have any questions or comments about the books I've briefly reviewed here, please let me know.  I'd be happy to answer them or pleased to read your comment.

It's been a long week

This isn't so much a book review, but rather more a post to inform my readers why there is no "official" book review this week and what I have been doing rather than reading and writing a book review.

Life!

Yup, that thing we are a living and happens to everyone at times, just got in the way of me doing fun stuff. Basically a big pile of crap fell down and buried me in stress and I just haven't felt like reading at all.  Long and short; bureaucratic crap that Michael and I had paid a lawyer to help us navigate so we wouldn't end up buried in crap.  Apparently that money would have been better spent if we flushed it down the toilet, maybe it could have made some nice bedding for a sewer rat?  In any case, I just haven't felt like reading at all this week, so I'm behind on my book reviewing.  I didn't want to disappoint the three readers I have (Hi Mommy!) and not write something, so in the end I've decided to tell you about Jenny Lawson.  

Have you heard of her?  Jenny Lawson, otherwise known as "The Bloggess," is a blogger and author who writes dark humour about her life, including being brutally honest about about her periods of mental illness.  Every post of Lawson's that I read will elicit a genuine chuckle from me.

I've been following her blog for a little while now, having discovered her because of the cover of her second book, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things.  I had never heard of this woman before, but the cover features a picture of a raccoon with a maniacal expression and open arms and it was this cover alone that caused me to pick up the book and read the cover. 

I have to admit, I didn't buy it right away.  I don't usually read autobiographical books, so it just wasn't something that I thought I would enjoy. The cover haunted me. I started seeing it everywhere, in stores, on Amazon, on Goodreads, there is was.  Every time I saw it I would click on the link or pick up the book and look at that cover again.  Those eyes, they follow you.  It was hypnotic.  In the end, I bought the book because that raccoon.

If you have ever suffered from any sort of mental illness, known someone who has suffered or just want to get a better understanding of what people who suffer from mental illness go through, this is a must read.  I have been lucky enough in life not to suffer from mental illness, but I have a number of close friends who do deal with it on some sort of basis.  Reading Furiously Happy, I think, gave me a better understanding of just some of this things those friends deal with on a regular basis.  The best part about this book though is the humour. Michael ended up calling it the "giggle book" because every time I read it, I would giggle at things that The Bloggess wrote.  Dark humour for sure, but I enjoyed every minute of Lawson's elegant way of describing her suffering.

This brings me to Jenny Lawson's most recent endeavour, You are Here: An Owner's Manual for Dangerous Minds.  Full of inspirational prompts, advice, dark humour and illustrations, You are Here is part colouring book, part self-enrichment, and part therapy.  

As a way to help ease her anxiety, Lawson would doodle illustrations and she would occasionally share these online.  Fans loved them and would even bring printed copies of the doodles and illustrations to book signings and ask Lawson to sign.  Eventually, somehow, You are Here was created.  A book that I'm confident that only Lawson could create (it say's so on the book jacket and everything)

All of the pages of You are Here are removable, so you can colour them, frame them, burn them...whatever floats your boat.  Flipping through these pages during the last stressful week as provided just a little bit a relaxation in the evening. I might have to buy a second copy, just so I can colour and write in it.

It's been a long week, and the stress isn't quite over yet, but in the end, I know everything will be alright. Jenny Lawson say's so.

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Is Death Really the End?

A Review of Afterlife
Author ~ Marcus Sakey

There are some books that you just read that have no effect on you, there are some books you read that make you cry, other books that make you laugh, and then there is Afterlife, which makes you think about life and death.  

In Marcus Sakey's new book, Afterlife, he explores life after death and a love that transcends both.  Not only does Afterlife make you ponder the meaning of life, but it is also filled with pop culture references that made me chuckle every time I came upon them.  I found that it made the character of Will Brody more relatable, despite actually being dead for most of the story (don't worry, that's not a spoiler). 

When FBI agent will Brody tries to stop a serial sniper form terrorizing Chicago,  little does he know that the sniper is possessed from an evil from beyond the grave. When Will loses his life to the sniper he discovers that there is more after death then he ever believed.

Claire McCoy, FBI task force leader, and secret love of Will Brody, is devastated by the loss of her agent and lover. She becomes even more consumed with discovering the snipers identity and walks herself into a dangerous situation, subsequently loosing her life, but taking the snipers life with her.

In the afterlife, Will and Claire find each other and are horrified to discover beings that devour the souls of the dead, some of these beings are so powerful the can "ride" the living.

It's up to Will and Claire to lead the other souls in the Afterlife, standing up to these beings so called gods before they can continue killing the living.

I have to admit, it took me quite a long time to write this review, I found myself struggling to articulate how I felt about this book.  I really did enjoy it, and at times I found it hard to put down, which for me is the sign of an good story, but it was almost like there was so much going on, I didn't know how to write about it. 

At a certain point, all I can do was to write down a few thoughts and press the publish button.  Would I recommend this book to someone else, yes, and I would tell them that it was an interesting and enjoyable read.  Am I excited about the prospect of Afterlife becoming a movie, I sure am.  I think that it could make a stunning movie and provide a lot of interesting discussions about the meaning of life and death.

4 Penguins

I received an free ARC of Afterlife from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

It's going to be A Cold Day in Hell

A Review of A Cold Day in Hell
Author ~ Lissa Marie Redmond

There is something about a well written police procedural story that I always enjoy, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Cold Day in Hell.  Written by retired police officer, Lissa Marie Redmond, I found that this book had a very authentic feel to it, which you would hope it to have if written by a former police officer. 

Lauren Riley is a detective at the top of her game, solving crimes in the Cold Case Investigations of the Buffalo Police Department.  Single mother of two, who's girls have gone off to college, Lauren finds that she has a bit too much time on her hands.  Frank Violanti, slick defence attorney, who's questionable clients and theatrical behaviour in court make him one of the best.  When Franks's eighteen year-old client, David, is arrested for murder he begs Lauren to take the case on as a private investigator.  Normally on opposite sides of the bench, Lauren and Frank don't generally see eye to eye, but upon meeting David, Lauren can't help but feel she needs to prove his innocence.  Unravelling the conflicting evidence, Lauren discovers that nothing is quite as it seems.  With an abusive ex stalking her and the press all over the case, Lauren puts here career in danger as doubt starts to plague her motives.

I have to say that with a lot of police procedural's, I usually have a pretty good guess who-done-it before the big reveal.  I may not always be right, but I have my suspicions.  That is half the fun of reading these, to see if you can pick out the clues the author has given.  When reading A Cold Day in Hell, the clues were there, but I was never able to make up my mind, until the reveal happened.  I also enjoyed the fact that while there was the big investigation to prove David's innocence, Lauren was still working her day job in the cold case department.  TV is often very sensationalized with great intuitive leaps, but reading this book dispelled a lot of what you see on TV and explained that solving crimes is a lot of hard and diligent work and a fair amount of luck, especially in the cold case department.  

While I enjoyed reading A Cold Day in Hell and was interested in the story developing and what was going to happen, for me, I was easily able to put this book down at night and I didn't find myself with the urgent need to read the book as fast as possible, until the last 2% of the book.  Redmond has done an excellent job with a hook at the end that makes you want to pick up her next book ASAP.  Now she just needs to write it.

3.5 Penguins

A Cold Day in Hell will be released on February 8, 2018 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon or Midnight Ink's Website.

I received an free ARC of A Cold Day in Hell from Midnight Ink via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.