Artemis by Andy Weir

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This book isn’t released until November and already has about 400 reviews at Goodreads! What do I say that probably hasn’t already been said?

My initial response was that the book felt like:

  1. John Grisham in space. Only no lawyers.
  2. Michael Crichton in space. Only no dinosaurs.
  3. Dan Brown in space. Only no religious conspiracies.

Let’s start with Jazz. She’s Saudi Arabian and lived most of her life on the moon (Artemis). She might have been born there, but I can’t remember. She can’t live or even WALK on Earth anymore without major treatments, exercise, medication, etc. because of the difference in gravity. But she is a moon girl, through and through, and has no intention of being anywhere else.

Jazz is a very interesting character, in that she isn’t very likable, yet you find yourself cheering for her anyway. She is a smuggler and doesn’t do anything too crazy yet she is always on someone’s radar. She is one of those brilliant young women who have family members (in this case, it’s just her dad) always telling her she “has so much potential.” She is fiercely independent, snarky as hell, and does what she wants, when she wants.

This is a story of how she makes a deal thinking this will be “the one” to make her rich and yet of course, EVERYTHING goes wrong, and she has to figure out how to dig her way out of the big poop pile.

I have NOT read The Martian, believe it or not, so have nothing to compare this to except The Egg and Annie’s Day (which I liked both of those very short stories a lot).

I enjoyed this. A good high-tech sci-fi suspense… very science-y in a way readers will be able to comprehend. I don’t think it’s my typical choice in reading material. But I was entertained and I think it’s going to sell tons of books and be very successful.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review!
Review also found at Goodreads.

 

 

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Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore

3.5 stars

Milo has lived almost 10,000 lives and if he doesn’t achieve an act of “Perfection” pretty soon, he is going to get poofed into nothingness by the universe. I mean, you only get so many tries.

Suzie is his girlfriend (who happens to be Death) of 8,000 years. They have an unconventional relationship and only see each other between his lives. But, it’s pretty epic.

Even though the story focuses on Milo and his many lives, there are actually two other major plots going on:

– Suzie’s evolution from Death to realizing she wants (and can have) more, and
– The story of their relationship (don’t worry, while this has romantic elements, it’s not a kissing book.)

We are shown the types of lives Milo has lived, chapter by chapter. A lot of the book reads like a collection of short stories. We learn about Milo’s lives hundreds of year ago and the ones that take place hundreds of years in the future, some in space and on space ships.

I felt sympathy for Milo because, if reincarnation is true, how awful is it to have to go back over and over without remembering anything in the hopes you stumble upon an act deemed as “perfection” by the universe. Not fair! 😛

The book is a combination of sci-fi and philosophical, humorous fiction. The book has more in common with Douglas Adams and Tom Robbins than Carlos Castenada or Paulo Coelho. (It also kind of reminds me of Patrick deWitt, who wrote the Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor. The books are nothing alike, but there is something about the writing style…)

The first part of the book was fantastic. It was funny and quirky, poignant, and even melancholy at times. Unfortunately, I felt like the book started to lose steam in the middle and the various lives started to blend together. I felt like the story could have been easily told in fewer pages, since the additional chapters weren’t really revealing anything new and was a continuation of what we had already seen.

However, this was well-written and I really enjoyed the author’s style of writing and humor. Along with the “funneh” and eccentric vibe, there are some good nuggets about philosophy and “dharma.” I am definitely putting this author on my watch list.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review.

“Cottonwood” by R. Lee Smith

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In this story, insectoid aliens crash-landed on Earth. They were settlers, with some doctors, military members, and engineers onboard, going to settle an unpopulated planet. They got to Earth by mistake and humans decide they must be put in camps where they are housed and fed and work in a recycling program.

Sarah is a young woman who gets what she thinks is going to be an awesome job as a caseworker for the aliens to help work toward integration… when the aliens can be moved slowly into society.

When she gets there however, she discovers she has been lied to and the aliens live in squalor, picking through trash, with no showers or toilets, they are fed mystery meat in unlabeled cans, and “disappear” all the time never to be seen again. They have no rights and are prisoners.

Sarah slowly builds a friendship with a father and his son and a couple other members of Cottonwood. There are two mega villains: one runs the camps around the world and the other is his henchman. And that is the premise of Cottonwood.

What an amazing book. This was so much more than a “romance.” The author did such a great job bringing all the characters to life and making you feel deep emotion for everyone! Sarah was fantastic as the protagonist. She was brave and selfless. She helped the “bugs” even though she knew she could get in serious trouble – because it was the right thing to do. She wasn’t “badass” as far as being able to kick butt, but she was definitely badass as an amazing human being.

I especially loved the little boy, T’aki. He was so cute and sweet and his interactions with his dad, Sanford, and Sarah were touching. Sanford wasn’t an “alpha,” but he was strong and a good man. The romance doesn’t even really come in until around 60 or 70%? But the descriptions of the sex were well done, realistic. This isn’t smut and there are no raunchy scenes. It’s not sexy, but it is kind of fascinating and I totally shipped Sarah and Sanford.

There was another supporting character named Samaritan, who is like the Crazy Uncle who don’t want anyone to meet, but when the shit hits the fan, he’s got your back. He was a total asshole, but also pretty freaking incredible when the moment called for it… and then he’d go back to being an asshole again.

The “bugs” in this have a “clicking” type language and they “share breath” as part of intimacy. Their feelers can “taste” the air and smells. The author (again) did a great job explaining the aliens and made them really come alive.

Even though these aliens aren’t preying mantis-looking, I think fans of Vel from Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series would like this. I would call it more sci-fi adventure/drama with romantic elements.

This book made me cry, had me on the edge of my seat at times, smiling, frowning, and I appreciated that all the drama felt organic and not contrived whatsoever.

This is my favorite R. Lee Smith book. I’ve read 3 of hers now and I am hooked.

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Review also found at: Goodreads

Original post:

ERMAGHERD. All the stars! I loved this so much.What a fantastic story. Sci-fi adventure with an amazing love story, awesome supporting characters, villains you want to die a horrible slow painful death, amazing heroine, sweet and kind hero who happens to be an insectoid alien. GAH. All the feels.

This is not really a romance, but it has a slow-build love story at its heart. I think sci-fi and fantasy fans would like this. The writing is easy to get into and it was just paced well and an instant favorite!!

YOU NEED TO READ THIS!

“Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch

Spoiler-free review. This book isn’t even released until August, so I won’t go into too much detail. Besides, it’s best to go into a Blake Crouch book knowing nothing. When you’re finished, you may still know nothing, but you’ll know more of nothing that you started out knowing.

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I’m joking. This book isn’t confusing. It’s pretty fascinating, actually, and very different than the Wayward Pines trilogy (which I admit, I did enjoy more than this). This is sci-fi thriller where Pines was more sci-fi dystopian with a strong dose of weirdness. This one doesn’t have that quirky Twin Peaks vibe. But that’s okay! Blake Crouch has become one of my favorite authors. If he writes it, I’ll read it!

You can read the synopsis for a general idea of the plot setup. But this is more than just a sci-fi action thriller. It’s also a love story. I won’t go into that since the book hasn’t been released yet, but I highly recommend checking this one out. It also sort of reminded me of the awesome (but highly underrated) TV show Fringe.

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley and publisher to read and review! THANK YOU!!!

Vicious (Vicious, #1) by V.E. Schwab, aka Victoria Schwab

Vicious (Vicious, #1)Vicious by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yep, all the stars.

This story reminded me a lot of the X-Men and young Magneto’s and Charles Xavier’s friendship turned nemesis relationship. Two young men meet at college and form a deep friendship. They love science and a ground-breaking experiment succeeds and ends up turning them into violent enemies.

Ten years goes by. One went to prison and has escaped (Victor Vale). One spends those years as a sort of vigilante, searching for people who fit the experiment’s perimeters, and assassinating them in some kind of twisted Holy War (Eli Ever).

I don’t want to go into the plot too much because of spoilers. This was such an awesome book that you should just go in knowing as little as possible. If you like sci-fi fantasy, mutants, superheroes, and books where the main characters are, at best, anti-heroes and at worst, villains, this is the book for you. The MCs are not “good” and they break laws and kill. I still found myself liking Victor a lot.

I loved Victor.

Even though Victor’s blond and younger, he reminds me of Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. He also (for some reason) kind of reminds me of Julian McMahon as Doctor Doom in the Fantastic Four. Again, not blond and older than Victor, but I just picture them as Victor. *shrugs*

The supporting characters were really good also. There’s a huge tattooed brilliant hacker named Mitchell, a 12-year-old girl named Sydney, and a humongous dog named Dol. They made up Victor’s “team” of misfits and I loved them!

I hated Eli.

He was so self-righteous and a hypocrite. I hated how obsessed with religion he was, yet he only cared about it when it suited him. Serena was a girlfriend and partner in crime. I hated her too. Hated her. I wanted them both to die. I felt no pity or sympathy for them whatsoever. Eli’s sections in the book were the worst. I hated how he thought he had divine justification for doing the despicable things he did.

”You don’t understand,” gasped Eli. “No one understands.”

“When no one understands, that’s usually a good sign that you’re wrong.”

SPOILERISH:

The author had an interesting take on the whole “mutant ability” theme. When people were somehow brought back to life after being brain-dead, they acquired some type of ability based on what they were thinking as they died. But they also lost a lot of their humanity – stuff like empathy, guilt, fear, and even joy. It’s a darker interpretation, but still cool.

Overall, I loved this book. I loved the characters, the plot, the premise, the execution. The middle might have dragged just a bit when Eli’s sections were introduced, but I even loved hating him. It was a satisfying ending. And now apparently, there will be a second book! YAY!

Review also found at: Goodreads

“Zero World” by Jason M. Hough

5 out of 5 stars! Wow! This ended up being fantastic!
Note: The book actually only takes up about 77% of the Kindle version. There is a novella after that called The Dire Earth that ties into The Darwin Elevator world.

Meet Peter Caswell.

He’s a bad-ass secret agent/super soldier/assassin who works for an elite company called Archon. His handler, Monique, gives him his missions via mind-to-mind communication through a high-tech implant located on his neck. The implant also happens to wipe his memory after jobs, which makes him an incredibly efficient killer since he has no guilt afterward or any emotional complications.

Caswell gets an unusual mission that takes him off-world and thrust into all kinds of intrigue, insurgency, and lots of mindfuckery.

Meet Melni.

She is the agent Caswell meets off-world and they become tangled together in a web of intrigue, insurgency, and lots of mindfuckery.

I really don’t want to say any more because this was such a well-written sci-fi thriller full of surprises it would feel like spoiling the fun to go into the plot any further!

There’s some great world-building and a slowly unfolding, complex story that ends up being just amazing! My inner Star Trek/Star Wars fangirl self was appeased and it’s got a great Mission Impossible/Jason Bourne vibe going on too. It’s even got a dash of steampunk thrown in. I highly recommend if you love sci-fi.

I am definitely going to check out more stuff by this author.

Here’s a nice review by someone I follow named Jason. Check it out.

Review also found at: Goodreads.

“Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch

Wayward (Wayward Pines, #2)Wayward by Blake Crouch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid second book in the trilogy, although not as good as the first one, in my view. If you didn’t like Pines, this one isn’t going to change that. The story picks up right where we left off, Ethan is now sheriff and everything is still FUBAR. If I say anything else, it’s just going to be a spoiler. You really don’t want to know anything about this series before you start it.

There’s not quite as much going on until halfway through the book, but it’s still an easy book to read, and the creepy mysteriousness is always thrumming below the surface. It does end on a cliffhanger. We find out a lot more about Pilcher. Pam is a crazy bitch. Like, seriously. As if we didn’t already know that from book one, but STILL. *shiver*

I can’t wait to see what happens next. What happens at the end changes everything.

Just read the damn book.

Unless you hated the first one and then you’d probably hate this one too.

Buddy read with the Saucy Wenches group in October. I couldn’t wait, so already started it.

View all my reviews

“Transcendence” by Shay Savage

5 stars!

WARNING: May induce severe ugly crying.

Wow. This book. Talk about a surprise. I was enjoying the story, but not loving it, up until about the 70% mark and then it just suddenly became this incredibly rich and emotional story that caused me to literally sob. I had to stop at 95% and wait to finish it when I could compose myself enough to carry on. This has never happened to me before when reading a book. (Yeah, there are several movies I have privately ugly-cried to – like The Notebook, Les Miserables, when I saw Beaches for the first time…typical stuff like that.)

Some people will try to read this book and be baffled by the 5 star reviews. This is not for everyone. First off, not a lot happens until the book is more than halfway over! This is not going to work for people who need a lot going on in the plot. It’s written in a very simple style and ALL about the slow-evolving romance. The male main character is not an alpha at all. He’s a caveman. He does not have the capacity to learn language or symbols or understand them because his brain is different from modern humans. So there is repetition and not a lot of complexity going on. Ehd is a simple man. He wants a mate. He wants to protect and provide for his mate. And he REALLY wants to “put a baby” inside his mate. All the time.

There are a zillion reviews for this, so I won’t recap or include quotes. The basic premise is that a caveman stumbles upon a strange woman and decides she is his mate. As the reader, we learn that his mate, Beh (he can’t pronounce her real name, Elizabeth), somehow came from another time and is trapped there. As the story unfolds, they fall in love, and have a long, fulfilling life together.

The author did an amazing job in telling this story completely from Ehd’s point of view. Of course, it is not “realistic” because Ehd thinks in a more complex way than a caveman would. But there would be no story if the author didn’t take some artistic liberties. I’ve never read a book like this and it’s very original.

I was not prepared for how emotionally attached I would become to Ehd and Beh. It literally makes me tear up just thinking about it. Even halfway through the book, I did not feel very emotional one way or the other about it, and then it just snuck up on me, and BAM. I was viscerally involved.

Romances are hit and miss with me. Sometimes I loathe them and sometimes I enjoy them. Rarely, do I flat-out LOVE them. This one is now an all-time favorite.

Sometimes it’s nice to read a romance about a male that is not a “mega alpha.” Ehd loved Beh so much. At first, I was like, eh, I need my book men to be more dominant, I’m not sure about this… but it WORKED. Ehd is the male you’d want in real life. Not the snarky sexy controlling asshole that is so common in most romances.

Well, I guess I will wrap it up. If you like sweet romances with a little bit of fantasy thrown in, one that is about the slow relationship build and kind of simple, yet invokes strong emotions, you will no doubt love this. You’ll love it.

^^^ That gif pretty much sums up the theme of this story.

Anyway, highly recommended for romance fans. I’ll shut up now.

Buddy Read with the MacHalo group, starting September 23, 2015. Because caveman romance, duh. For research purposes.

“Mechanica” by Betsy Cornwell

5 stars!

I really don’t get all the low ratings for this. I devoured Mechanica in 24 hours! I’ve read that people thought it was boring or that the pacing was slow. I just didn’t have that experience (and I am someone who can’t stand boring, slow-paced books). I guess it’s just one of those things.

So, this is NOTHING like Cinder whatsoever, for those wondering. Cinder has a more sci-fi vibe to it. I adored Cinder and gave it 5 stars also (see my review here if you want). This book is more steampunk fantasy with fae/fey magic.

Nicolette’s story starts in a pretty typical Cinderella manner. The adored mother dies and the father re-marries to a monster of a step-mother with two equally horrendous daughters. The father also dies and the “Steps” take over Nicolette’s home and make her the servant.

What I ADORED about this re-telling is that the mother was a genius mechanic who used fey magic to infuse animal creations, so that rather than just have gears and clocks and belts and glass bodies that run on coal, they actually have a spark of life in them. (Jules is one of the best animal supporting characters ever).

Nicolette ends up discovering her mother’s work and becoming a brilliant mechanic herself. Instead of a ball being the most important event in this re-telling, it’s an exposition, where citizens can showcase their talents and innovative ideas. There’s a bit of romance, but it’s a minor element. Nicolette is a very strong female character. This does not have your typical romantic HEA and in fact does not have one at all. The HEA is Nick becoming her own person, able to stand on her own.

Friendship is also a main theme. I enjoyed the friendship between Fin and Caro and Nick. I was put off by Caro’s attitude in regards to finding out someone was in love with her. But I appreciated the unconventional ending, so am not going to deduct a star even though it was a pretty big deal to me. It made her seem flippant and not as sympathetic.

Part of what made me feel such a resonance with this, I think, is that it has an air of wistfulness and melancholy that gave me lots of feels. So even though it might not have been action-packed, I was very much into what Nick was doing and going through and how her friendships grew.

I LOVED the way the fey were described and their magic. We never actually meet any full-blooded fey, but their magic is a main backdrop throughout.

I had no expectations with this and ended up loving it.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy of this to read and review. This was a joy to read.

First reaction:

BAM. 5 stars. Loved it. RTC.

Original post:

Netgalley approved me!

I’m all about steampunk Cinderellas. “Tiny magical metal horse?” Sold.

“Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox, #1)” by Rachel Bach

5 stars!

Review also found at Goodreads

Meet Devi.

She’s given 10 years of her life to hardcore training and mercenary life. She’s one of the best and she is determined to be better the rest. She wants to be a Devastator – one of the Paradox King’s personal guard. She’s highly motivated, confident, sassy, and ready to do whatever it takes to accomplish her goals.

At first, I hard a really tough time liking her or relating to her, and therefore, struggled to care about her story. She isn’t just confident and bad-ass, she’s obnoxiously cocky and arrogant and thinks she is God’s Gift to the opposite sex. That should be a huge turn off for me.

I wanted to run at first, but then, she grew on me.

So Devi finds out about a security job on a ship with really bad luck, but it’ll probably be a good enough gig to make her a Devastator, so she’s all about that shizz.

Who cares if all the security tends to die on this ship (named the Glorious Fool). However, Devi is so confident, she knows she won’t become just another statistic.

And so, after a slam-dunk interview with the crazy captain, Devi gets the job, meets the crew, and they journey to various moons and planets where CRAZY SHIT happens all the time. Why? Who the hell knows for most of the book because it’s mysterious. The mystery is built up bigtime in this book and we only get an answer here and there.

I won’t go into the plot anymore because I’d get into spoilers. So what worked for me:

* Loved the sci-fi
* Cool alien creatures
* Good story
* Great supporting characters
* Mystery and intrigue

Why I should have HATED this book:

* Tropes
* The romance
* A few cheap plot devices
* An unlikeable MC (at first at least)

*Note: I think if you go into this thinking of it as a soap opera, you’ll enjoy it more. In soap operas, characters lie and keep secrets, have angsty romances, personality changes, and cliffhangers are completely expected and normal. Let it be like a fluffy soap opera and your expectations will remain realistic for what you’re going to get with this.

Moving on…

Basil was cool and the best curmudgeonly alien navigator. All I kept picturing was something like this:

Hyrek. The huge reptilian…doctor? Who decided not be male or female and thus had to leave his own people (the xith’cal).

AND the weird, mute daughter of the captain… who reminded me a bit of this:

But she’s not as scary… just … weird. And more of that mysterious vein running through this book. We don’t really know who or what she is or what she’s capable of.

And then there is sweet Nova.

But there wasn’t enough of her. I am so into her ability to use plasmex, though. Telekinesis for the win!

I should have been more annoyed by this book. But it worked for me, strangely. I’m not going to question it too much. HOWEVER, I’ve heard such mixed things about the next books that I am not sure if I want to continue and might just leave it here. Undecided.

I liked Rupert as a mysterious character, but not as a romantic interest. I loved the idea of the symbionts and plasmex. Caldswell is an idiot. There was a cheap plot device used at the end, but it WORKED for me.

Buddy read with Buddies Books and Baubles group starting September 14, 2015.

I missed the BR with the Saucy Wenches group when they read it in March 2015.

This looks good!

“If you liked Star Wars, if you like the Kate Daniels series, and if you are waiting for Guardians of the Galaxy to hit the theaters, this is your book.”—Ilona Andrews