Radio Silence

My apologies for the radio silence over the weekend everyone. I have been dealing with feeling mildly sick for a week or so and then suddenly on Friday I just got hit by the sick bus. So just touching base to say that I will likely be out of commission for a few more days. Then, hopefully, I will have some reviews to share. What have you all been reading? Anything to recommend?

Review: The Apartment by K.L. Slater

The Apartment by K.L. Slater

Published: April 28, 2020 by Thomas & Mercer

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: It’s an opportunity she can’t refuse. The woman before her tried…

Freya Miller needs a miracle. In the fallout of her husband’s betrayal, she’s about to lose her family home, and with it the security she craves for her five-year-old daughter, Skye. Adrift and alone, she’s on the verge of despair until a chance meeting with the charismatic Dr Marsden changes everything. He’s seeking a new tenant for a shockingly affordable flat in a fashionable area of London.

Adder House sounds too good to be true… But Freya really can’t afford to be cynical, and Dr Marsden is adamant she and Skye will be a perfect fit with the other residents.

But Adder House has secrets. Even behind a locked front door, Freya feels as if she’s being watched: objects moving, unfamiliar smells, the blinking light of a concealed camera… and it’s not long before she begins to suspect that her dream home is hiding a nightmarish reality. Was it really chance that led her here—or something unthinkably dark?

As the truth about Adder House starts to unravel, can Freya and Skye get out—or will they be locked in forever?

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer!***

I am horribly behind on my NetGalley and author requests, so I am on a mission to get caught up before the end of summer. So expect to see my disclaimer a lot in the next few months.

But on to The Apartment. This was a pretty average thriller, as they go. I can’t say it was great. Neither can I say it was bad. It kept my attention and it was entertaining. I ended up staying up late into the night again because I wanted to see how it ended. I already had a good idea of how it was going to end, but I was interested enough to want to see it through.

The premise of this book is a good one. The offer that’s “too good to be true” is a common theme in thrillers. Naturally it gives all readers those “don’t go into the basement, you idiot!!” kind of vibes. I am okay with that. I don’t mind feeling like a character is making an obviously stupid decision. It wouldn’t be very thrilling if they didn’t, right?

Freya is one of those characters. From the beginning I was screaming at her not to move into that house. I didn’t need anything suspicious to happen, it’s a thriller so I know it’s going to go badly. I do feel that she didn’t entirely respond the way a normal person would early on. That can be problematic because it pulls me out of the story. For example, when your new landlord takes it upon themselves to enroll your child into school. You don’t just be internally mad for a minute and then go to lunch. That’s the reaction of a not-normal person. Eventually though Freya pulled it together and was rightly angry and suspicious.

I felt like more time needed to be spent on this book. The ending was a really good one. Predictable, but good. And it was executed really well. But it stretched reality a little too much for me. All of this took place in less than a week. In order to accomplish what the villain was supposedly trying to accomplish there needed to be much more time invested. Unless Freya was unstable to begin with. But the author took great pains to tell me that she was a strong, capable woman. She dealt with a lot in her life and bounced back. So this needed more time to make me believe that she would lose it that way.

Overall I enjoyed it and it was a pretty good thriller. I wish it was longer and a bit more developed though.

Reading Progress Updates

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn

Goodreads

Progress: Page 25 of 379

Synopsis: Sharks in the Time of Saviors is the story of a family, a people, and a legend, all wrapped in one. Faith and grief, rage and love, this book pulses with all of it. Kawai Strong Washburn makes his debut with a wealth of talent and a true artist’s eye.” –Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.

Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods–a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.

When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawai’i–with tragic consequences–they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.

Thoughts so Far: I am not sure what I think of this book so far. I keep putting it down and forgetting to pick it up again. That’s not really a good sign. Then I do pick it up and enjoy what I read. So I’m not sure what the problem is.

The Apartment by K.L. Slater

Goodreads

Progress: Page 126 of 270

Synopsis: It’s an opportunity she can’t refuse. The woman before her tried…

Freya Miller needs a miracle. In the fallout of her husband’s betrayal, she’s about to lose her family home, and with it the security she craves for her five-year-old daughter, Skye. Adrift and alone, she’s on the verge of despair until a chance meeting with the charismatic Dr Marsden changes everything. He’s seeking a new tenant for a shockingly affordable flat in a fashionable area of London.

Adder House sounds too good to be true… But Freya really can’t afford to be cynical, and Dr Marsden is adamant she and Skye will be a perfect fit with the other residents.

But Adder House has secrets. Even behind a locked front door, Freya feels as if she’s being watched: objects moving, unfamiliar smells, the blinking light of a concealed camera… and it’s not long before she begins to suspect that her dream home is hiding a nightmarish reality. Was it really chance that led her here—or something unthinkably dark?

As the truth about Adder House starts to unravel, can Freya and Skye get out—or will they be locked in forever?

Thoughts so Far: I am enjoying this book, but so far not much has happened. Freya is just barely having misgivings about the “too good to be true” apartment. I would have been having misgivings much sooner, so she’s a bit stupid. But it’s keeping my attention.

New Releases Wednesday

Blue Ticket by Sophie MacKintosh

Published: June 30, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you marriage and children. A blue ticket grants you a career and freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back. But what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?


When Calla, a blue ticket woman, begins to question her fate, she must go on the run. But her survival will be dependent on the very qualities the lottery has taught her to question in herself and on the other women the system has pitted against her. Pregnant and desperate, Calla must contend with whether or not the lottery knows her better than she knows herself and what that might mean for her child.


An urgent inquiry into free will, social expectation, and the fraught space of motherhood, Blue Ticket is electrifying in its raw evocation and desire and riveting in its undeniable familiarity.

My Thoughts: I know I have often been critical of feminist leaning dystopians, but this sounds different. It sounds like a woman questioning the system that is telling her what to do with her womanhood. She ends up in a situation she wasn’t supposed to and starts to question everything. I like that concept.

Interlibrary Loan by Gene Wolfe

Published: June 30, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Hundreds of years in the future our civilization is shrunk down but we go on. There is advanced technology, there are robots.

And there are clones.

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person, his personality an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.

As such, Smithe can be loaned to other branches. Which he is. Along with two fellow reclones, a cookbook and romance writer, they are shipped to Polly’s Cove, where Smithe meets a little girl who wants to save her mother, a father who is dead but perhaps not.

And another E.A. Smithe… who definitely is. 

My Thoughts: This is the second book in a series, but I can’t seem to say no to it. It’s another Tor release, and I generally really love what they offer. This sounds like an interesting take on AI and the idea of transferring consciousness after death.

Review: Reproduction by Ian Williams

Reproduction by Ian Williams

Published: May 5, 2020 by Europa Editions

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: A hilarious, surprising and poignant love story about the way families are invented, told with the savvy of a Zadie Smith and with an inventiveness all Ian Williams’ own, Reproduction bangs lives together in a polyglot suburb of Toronto.

Felicia and Edgar meet as their mothers are dying. Felicia, a teen from an island nation, and Edgar, the lazy heir of a wealthy German family, come together only because their mothers share a hospital room. When Felicia’s mother dies and Edgar’s “Mutter” does not, Felicia drops out of high school and takes a job as Mutter’s caregiver. While Felicia and Edgar don’t quite understand each other, and Felicia recognizes that Edgar is selfish, arrogant, and often unkind, they form a bond built on grief (and proximity) that results in the birth of a son Felicia calls Armistice. Or Army, for short.

Some years later, Felicia and Army (now 14) are living in the basement of a home owned by Oliver, a divorced man of Portuguese descent who has two kids—the teenaged Heather and the odd little Hendrix. Along with Felicia and Army, they form an unconventional family, except that Army wants to sleep with Heather, and Oliver wants to kill Army. Then Army’s fascination with his absent father—and his absent father’s money—begins to grow as odd gifts from Edgar begin to show up. And Felicia feels Edgar’s unwelcome shadow looming over them. A brutal assault, a mortal disease, a death, and a birth reshuffle this group of people again to form another version of the family.

Reproduction is a profoundly insightful exploration of the bizarre ways people become bonded that insists that family isn’t a matter of blood.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Europa Editions!***

There is only one word that I can come up with for this book. It was bizarre. From what I understand the author is a poet. This makes a lot of sense to me as much of this narrative reads more like prose. And I got the sense that the author was doing a lot of exploring of the bounds of fiction. I appreciate that too but it didn’t work for me.

Parts of this read like a poem, others like diary entries, others like bullet points. And then occasionally the author would throw in what can only be described as rap lyrics. It made it very difficult for me to connect with the story in any way because the story kept changing. I also hated that the author insisted on typing out everyone’s accents. That made this so hard to follow in addition to everything else. Whenever anyone spoke I would not be able to determine what was happening without reading it twice. It was incredibly bizarre and I still don’t know quite what to make of it.

Outside of the writing style, I wasn’t invested in the plot or characters either. The plot was fine (nothing special), but the characters were awful. Felicia alternately comes across as a naive little girl or a crazy person. One second she’s finally realizing that she was deceived and taken advantage of and the next second she’s trying to stab people. And Edgar was just horrible. Selfish, persistent liar, abusive son, abusive lover, borderline rapist, takes advantage of young and naive women. He was a real gem. I haven’t hated a character as much as him in quite a long time.

Some people will undoubtedly love this book and the way it explores how we write fiction. But, it didn’t work for me.

Review: The Law of Lines by Hye-Young Pyun

The Law of Lines by Hye-Young Pyun

Published: April 7, 2020 by Arcade

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: From the Prize-Winning Author of The Hole, a Slow-Burning Thriller about Unseen Forces that Shape Us and Debts We Accumulate, in Life, in Death.

Winner of several of Korea’s top literary awards, The Law of Lines follows the parallel stories of two young women whose lives are upended by sudden loss. When Se-oh, a recluse still living with her father, returns from an errand to find their house in flames, wrecked by a gas explosion, she is forced back into the world she had tried to escape. The detective investigating the incident tells her that her father caused the explosion to kill himself because of overwhelming debt she knew nothing about, but Se-oh suspects foul play by an aggressive debt collector and sets out on her own investigation, seeking vengeance.

Ki-jeong, a beleaguered high school teacher, receives a phone call that the body of her younger half-sister has just been found. Her sister was a college student she had grown distant from. Though her death, by drowning, is considered a suicide by the police, that doesn’t satisfy Ki-jeong, and she goes to her sister’s university to find out what happened. Her sister’s cell phone reveals a thicket of lies and links to a company that lures students into a virtual pyramid scheme, preying on them and their relationships. One of the contacts in the call log is Se-oh.

Like Hye-young Pyun’s Shirley Jackson Award–winning novel The Hole, an immersive thriller that explores the edges of criminality, the unseen forces in our most intimate lives, and grief and debt. 

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and Arcade!***

This book took a little while for me to buy in. The synopsis says this is a slow burn and that is entirely accurate. This is the kind of story that is all about the characters. If the author cannot make you care about their characters then the story is lost. I cared.

This is a story about grief. Both Se-oh and Ki-jeong have been struck with grief. For Soe-oh it is the death of her father. Her grief is enhanced by events from her past that may have contributed to her father’s death in ways she never anticipated. For Ki-jeong it is the death of her estranged sister. She isn’t willing to accept that her sister died and she ultimately knew nothing about her, or her life. This sets the two of them on a quest.

But this book is also about more than that. It’s about poverty and the cycle of poverty that is seen all around the world. Along with the devastation and desperation that comes with it. It affected everyone in this story but all of the characters were too far into their own cycles of grief and poverty to see it, let alone offer any compassion or empathy to anyone else.

I enjoyed this story very much. It was highly literary and an excellent character piece. I do think it is being marketing poorly as a mystery or a thriller. It is neither of those things. It’s a story about two women and the unpredictable ways that their lives intersect while searching for their respective answers.

Take My Money! Sunday

The Archive of the Forgotten by A.J. Hackwith

Expected Publication: October 6, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: In the second installment of this richly imagined fantasy adventure series, a new threat from within the Library could destroy those who depend upon it the most.

The Library of the Unwritten in Hell was saved from total devastation, but hundreds of potential books were destroyed. Former librarian Claire and Brevity the muse feel the loss of those stories, and are trying to adjust to their new roles within the Arcane Wing and Library, respectively. But when the remains of those books begin to leak a strange ink, Claire realizes that the Library has kept secrets from Hell–and from its own librarians.

Claire and Brevity are immediately at odds in their approach to the ink, and the potential power that it represents has not gone unnoticed. When a representative from the Muses Corps arrives at the Library to advise Brevity, the angel Rami and the erstwhile Hero hunt for answers in other realms. The true nature of the ink could fundamentally alter the afterlife for good or ill, but it entirely depends on who is left to hold the pen.

Why I’m Excited: Earlier this month, I reviewed and really enjoyed The Library of the Unwritten. This is the next book in the series!! It sounds so good. I want to read it badly. I have requested an ARC of it but haven’t gotten one yet…..some one give me one, please!

Fauna by Christiane Vadnais

Expected Publication: September 22, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: In a near-future world ravaged by climate change, who will win in the struggle between humanity and nature?

A thick fog rolls in over Shivering Heights. The river overflows, the sky is streaked with toxic green, parasites proliferate in torrential rains and once safely classified species – humans included – are evolving and behaving in unprecedented ways. Against this poetically hostile backdrop, a biologist, Laura, fights to understand the nature and scope of the changes transforming her own body and the world around her.

Ten lush and bracing linked climate fictions depict a world gorgeous and terrifying in its likeness to our own.

Fauna, Christiane Vadnais’s first work of fiction, won the Horizons Imaginaires speculative fiction award, the City of Quebec book award, and was named one of 2018’s best books by Radio-Canada.

Why I’m Excited: I am a giant sucker for post-apocalyptic speculative fiction. It can be so exciting and fun when it’s done right. This one sounds fantastic. Human evolution taking a turn that might jeopardize human existence. I love it!

Review: Providence by Max Barry

Providence by Max Barry

Published: March 31, 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: A dazzling, inventive, and thought-provoking new novel from the ingenious author of Jennifer Government and Lexicon.

Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson are astronauts captaining a new and supposedly indestructible ship in humanity’s war against an alien race. Confined to the ship for years, each of them holding their own secrets, they are about to learn there are threats beyond the reach of human ingenuity–and that the true nature of reality might be the universe’s greatest mystery.

In this near future, our world is at war with another, and humanity is haunted by its one catastrophic loss–a nightmarish engagement that left a handful of survivors drifting home through space, wracked with PTSD. Public support for the war plummeted, and the military-industrial complex set its sights on a new goal: zero-casualty warfare, made possible by gleaming new ships called Providences, powered by AI.

But when the latest-launched Providence suffers a surprising attack and contact with home is severed, Gilly, Talia, Anders, and Jackson must confront the truth of the war they’re fighting, the ship that brought them there, and the cosmos beyond.

Review: ***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley and G.P Putnam’s Sons!!***

This is my second book by Max Barry and I officially just love him! The way he uses words is just extraordinary. His plots seem so simple on the surface but the nuance and depth that they uncover is astounding. I want to talk to him about how his mind works and how he has so many gorgeous ideas. I may have gotten a copy of this for free, but I now own a paid copy of everything of his I can get my hands on.

On the surface, this book is about a war in space with aliens. Four people have been selected to “pilot” an AI controlled warship that is being sent to the far reaches of space to kill the enemy “salamanders”. No one is clear why the salamanders started killing everyone, they just attacked and so humans attacked back. During an engagement the ship makes the crew nervous and they start to wonder if maybe it is fallible after all or perhaps it might turn on them at some point.

The more I read, the more I realized that ultimately that is not what this story is about. This story is about the psychology of warfare. It doesn’t matter who the enemy is. It doesn’t matter why there’s a conflict. It doesn’t matter who is fighting on the front lines except if they can sell it to the public. So put on a smile and make some wartime diaries for the folks back home. And, in the end, it doesn’t even matter that you won it’s all just part of the game of warfare.

I didn’t feel an emotional connection to any of the characters, they seem incidental to the plot and frankly I think that was intentional. They didn’t matter. They were just a vehicle to the story. That was the point. But the ending got me. It made me tear up a bit. Because I finally got the point. It was a beautifully written book. I absolutely loved it.

Review: The Other Mrs by Mary Kubica

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Published: February 18, 2020 by Park Row

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Propulsive and addictive, The Other Mrs. is the twisty new psychological thriller from Mary Kubica, the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl

She tried to run, but she can’t escape the other Mrs….

Sadie and Will Foust have only just moved their family from bustling Chicago to small-town Maine when their neighbor Morgan Baines is found dead in her home. The murder rocks their tiny coastal island, but no one is more shaken than Sadie.

But it’s not just Morgan’s death that has Sadie on edge. And as the eyes of suspicion turn toward the new family in town, Sadie is drawn deeper into the mystery of what really happened that dark and deadly night. But Sadie must be careful, for the more she discovers about Mrs. Baines, the more she begins to realize just how much she has to lose if the truth ever comes to light.

Review: I put down an ultimatum when I started this book. If I didn’t enjoy it, then I am giving up on thrillers for awhile (except ARCs that I have obviously). Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the current world of thrillers but it’s not doing it for me.

This one started off well, despite the fact that I found our main narrator (Sadie) incredibly dull. She was so boring. And despite her insistence on reminding everyone that she is a doctor, we never actually see her performing duties as a doctor. Mostly she just navel gazes and complains. We learn very quickly that she is damaged and so is the rest of her family. They have fled to Maine after her husband’s sister commits suicide and they adopt another damaged person into the family. Sadie is not a nice person. She’s judgmental, arrogant, and a really bad mother. The only interactions we ever see her have with her children are when she’s telling them to leave her alone or suspecting one of them of doing something awful with no real evidence.

Despite Sadie, the story drew me in. We were also narrated by Camille, the woman who Will had an affair with. Camille is fantastic. I loved her narration and wish we had gotten more of it. We also hear from Mouse, a 6 year old little girl who is dealing with an abusive stepmother and a father who travel frequently for business. The way these three narratives were woven together was actually very good. Even though the ending was terrible, I thought the weaving of the narrations was masterful.

Unfortunately, it became abundantly clear to me what the ending was going to be about halfway through. One of the twists I predicted was accurate. It wasn’t great but it made sense to the story. The second twist was so ridiculous that I actually laughed out loud. I wonder if that’s the landscape of thrillers these days, come up with an outlandish twist that no one could possible guess. I am not a fan. Usually this means that it is absolutely out of character for the people in the book and makes literally no sense with the rest of the plot. That was the case here. Having a standard thriller ending that everyone knows is coming is not a bad thing. Deciding to throw in twists just for the sake of shocking your audience is a bad thing, and I wish authors would stop doing it.

New Releases Wednesday

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected on Water by Zen Cho

Published: June 23, 2020 by Tor.com Publishing

Goodreads

Synopsis: Zen Cho returns with a found family wuxia fantasy that combines the vibrancy of old school martial arts movies with characters drawn from the margins of history.

A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Guet Imm, a young votary of the Order of the Pure Moon, joins up with an eclectic group of thieves (whether they like it or not) in order to protect a sacred object, and finds herself in a far more complicated situation than she could have ever imagined.

Why I’m Excited: First off, the cover looks more like a painting than a book cover. I could stare at it all day. I was not familiar with the term “wuxia” when I happened on this book. But I looked it up and it means “martial hero”, so a hero of the martial arts. This just sounds so good! I want to read this so badly.

Sisters of Sword & Song by Rebecca Ross

Published: June 23, 2020 by Harper Teen

Goodreads

Synopsis: From the author of The Queen’s Rising comes a thrilling YA stand-alone fantasy about the unbreakable bond between sisters. Perfect for fans of Ember in the Ashes, Sky in the Deep, and Court of Fives.

After eight long years, Evadne will finally be reunited with her older sister, Halcyon, who has been proudly serving in the queen’s army. But when Halcyon appears earlier than expected, Eva knows something has gone terribly wrong. Halcyon is on the run, hunted by her commander and charged with murder.

Though Halcyon’s life is spared during her trial, the punishment is heavy. And when Eva volunteers to serve part of Halcyon’s sentence, she’s determined to find out exactly what happened. But as Eva begins her sentence, she quickly learns that there are fates much worse than death.

Why I’m Excited: The synopsis of this one made me want to learn more, so I did a little research. Turns out this book is an alternate history Ancient Greece. All of the gods/goddesses have left behind powerful relics that the Queen is on the hint for. Something goes wrong and Halcyon ends up charged with a murder. That sounds so good. And it sounds like a very good sibling story, where both siblings are good people who want to protect each other from the world. That appeals to me.