Audiobook Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Published: September 15, 2020 by Macmillan Audio

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

Rating:

Synopsis: Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .

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

I wanted to read this book so much. The cover is breathtaking. The author is renowned. The synopsis is striking. I wanted this book more than any book I have wanted in quite a long time. It didn’t disappoint.

Kira was a great narrator to take us through this tale. She studies alien lifeforms for a living. Popping around to different galaxies to discover what she can about different lifeforms that they run across. What she finds on this trip is not at all what she expects and it unwittingly unleashes a war that threatens to consume all of humanity. But what does it even mean to be human after what she discovers anyway? I really loved her narration and watching her evolve through the situation. She reacted much like anyone would in similar circumstances, which is something I always appreciate in a novel character.

The world in this book was just stunning. I don’t think I’ve ever read a world that was more thoroughly and entertainingly rendered. The history, dynamics, politics, all of it was there. I was quickly transported into this universe and I loved it.

The biggest problem with this book was that it was just so long. The print version is 880 pages and the audiobook is over 32 hours long. I loved the story but after awhile it all started to blend together a bit. I was no longer clear what exactly the goal was anymore. And that’s when it started to drag for me. So while I loved this story as a whole, it was just too long.

New Releases Wednesday

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Published: September 15, 2020 by Tor

Goodreads

Synopsis: Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .” 

My Thoughts: I went through hell and high water to get an ARC of this. I got rejected by two of my ARC services and the publisher directly, but then I got approved for the audiobook from Macmillian Audio because they like me, hehe. I have a full review of the audiobook coming in the next few days. Be warned it is LONG. 880 pages long. But, oh so good.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Published: September 15, 2020 by Margaret K. Elderberry Books

Goodreads

Synopsis: Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

My Thoughts: I really hope this book lives up to the hype. I am hearing about it constantly. I want a YA book with a strong female lead, a rich world, a thorough magic system. And please, Gods please, no love triangles.

Take My Money! Sunday

The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski

Expected publication: October 27, 2020

Goodreads

Synopsis: Reinmar of Bielawa, sometimes known as Reynevan, is a healer, a magician, and according to some, a charlatan. When a thoughtless indiscretion forces him to flee his home, he finds himself pursuednot only by brothers bent on vengeance but by the Holy Inquisition.


In a time when tensions between Hussite and Catholic countries are threatening to turn into war and mystical forces are gathering in the shadows, Reynevan’s journey will lead him to the Narrenturm — the Tower of Fools.


The Tower is an asylum for the mad…or for those who dare to think differently and challenge the prevailing order. And escaping it, avoiding the conflict around him, and keeping his own sanity will prove more difficult than he ever imagined.

Why I’m Excited: I am currently reading The Witcher series, and absolutely loving it. I have watched The Witcher on Netflix twice so far, and absolutely loved it. This sounds very interesting and also very different from that series. It interests me. And, I just so happen to have an ARC. I’m so excited!!

The Future is Yours by Dan Frey

Expected publication: February 9, 2021

Goodreads

Synopsis: If you had the chance to look one year into the future, would you? 

For Ben Boyce and Adhi Chaudry, the answer is unequivocally yes. And they’re betting everything that you’ll say yes, too. Welcome to The Future: a computer that connects to the internet one year from now, so you can see who you’ll be dating, where you’ll be working, even whether or not you’ll be alive in the year to come. By forming a startup to deliver this revolutionary technology to the world, Ben and Adhi have made their wildest, most impossible dream a reality. Once Silicon Valley outsiders, they’re now its hottest commodity. 

The device can predict everything perfectly—from stock market spikes and sports scores to political scandals and corporate takeovers—allowing them to chase down success and fame while staying one step ahead of the competition. But the future their device foretells is not the bright one they imagined.

Ambition. Greed. Jealousy. And, perhaps, an apocalypse. The question is . . . can they stop it?

Told through emails, texts, transcripts, and blog posts, this bleeding-edge tech thriller chronicles the costs of innovation and asks how far you’d go to protect the ones you love—even from themselves.

Why I’m Excited: I love a good sci-fi and particularly ones in which AI leads to mass chaos. I am not 100% sure that’s where this book is going, but I’m fairly sure that’s where it will end up. The way it is told seems to be similar to World War Z. I am a bit hesitant about that because I have seen lots of books try to copy the storytelling style of that book and never succeeded. I am excited to see what this one brings.

Review: Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke

Expected publication: February 16, 2021 by Flux

Pre-order this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Rating:

Synopsis: Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.

Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.

But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.

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

This book was originally scheduled to be released in May and because of COVID got pushed back to February. So for once I am doing an ARC review very early. But I didn’t want to wait too long to write the review lest I forget what happened.

This one took me by surprise. I was intrigued by the cover but honestly it’s a pretty standard YA sci-fi/fantasy cover. The blurb sounded interesting but not anything I haven’t read before. I prayed that there wouldn’t be the typical YA love triangle, and there wasn’t so that was nice. I expected it to be a very typical YA book and nothing more. I was wrong.

Ren was a pretty good main character. She was a bit one-sided at times in that she she insisted that all she cared about was the money when it was clear from her actions that she cared for a lot more than that. That got annoying. It was mostly like she was trying to convince herself that she didn’t care. But I did like her spunk and enjoyed following her through the story.

Darek was probably the most useless character in the book. He was the stereotypical tall, dark, handsome, brooding YA male lead. He doesn’t break any of the models here and fits the character well but wasn’t very compelling.

I adored the relationship between Adley and Lesa, and I loved them separately too. At times I was horrified by them and other times I was overcome with sympathy for them. I wanted their story to have a happy ending so badly.

Kellen was a delight to the story. I expected him to be the typical charming, sarcastic Prince who didn’t want to be. And in some ways he was but he also displayed a lot more depth than that.

The worldbuilding in this book was spectacular. The world was created with so much detail and depth, I could picture every inch of it. The politics, classes, social structure, all of it was rendered in beautiful detail.

What ultimately clinched this book for me was the ending. I was shocked. I was completely taken by surprise. In hindsight I can see the blocks that were put in place for this ending and I should have seen it coming. But I was enjoying other parts of the story so much that I didn’t pay enough attention and missed the clues. It was wonderful and I hope there’s another book planned. I need to know what happens next.

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: 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.

Reading Progress Updates

Providence by Max Barry

Goodreads

Progress: 142 of 320 pages

Synopsis: 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.

Thoughts So Far: I am LOVING this book. It has reminded me what I loved about Max Barry’s writing in Lexicon. He uses word like they contain actual power. He uses words with intent. Not a single word is wasted. And it is beautiful. I find myself losing time reading this book. I ❤ Max Barry!

The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

Goodreads

Progress: 240 pages of 359

Synopsis: 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.

Thoughts So Far: I keep putting this book down and then forgetting to pick it back up. As a result it’s taking me forever. Sadie is horrendously dull as a character. I get the sense that there’s more to the story with her but for now she’s boring. Camille is amazing and even Mouse is starting to interest me a little. I have a few theories about the ending right now and I hope all of them are wrong. If my theories are right it will be yet another thriller that disappoints me with the conclusion. Please let me be wrong!