Can’t Wait Wednesday: Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Fate of the FallenFate of the Fallen by Kel Kade

Author: Kel Kade

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Length: 344 pages

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Blurb (from GoodReads): Everyone loves Mathias. So naturally, when he discovers it’s his destiny to save the world, he dives in head first, pulling his best friend Aaslo along for the ride.

Mathias is thrilled for the adventure! There’s nothing better than a road beneath his feet and adventure in the air. Aaslo, on the other hand, has never cared for the world beyond the borders of his sleepy village and would be much happier alone and in the woods. But, someone has to keep the Chosen One’s head on his shoulders and his feet on the ground.

It turns out saving the world isn’t as easy, or exciting, as it sounds in the stories. Mathias is more than willing to place his life on the line, but Aaslo would love nothing more than to forget about all the talk of arcane bloodlines and magical fae creatures. When the going gets rough, folks start to believe their only chance for survival is to surrender to the forces of evil, which isn’t how the stories go. At all. To make matters worse Aaslo is beginning to fear that he may have lost his mind…

Why I’m Excited For It:  I’m not even going to lie to you guys, I wasn’t that excited for this prior to yesterday. I mean- sure, it was on the TBR, it promised to be dark and bloody, it was from Tor, but there wasn’t much in that blurb that really spoke to me.

Anyway- I won a Goodreads giveaway for it, and it arrived in the mail yesterday.  I cracked it open, as I do with all the new books I receive, and I read the letter from the editor talking about how he knew right from the beginning it would become a new favorite.  And I thought to myself, Okay, Mr. Editor.  That’s pretty cool and now I’m excited for it but still, your job is to sell books, so there’s that.

But then I flipped to the back cover and I read this (and I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t tell you if this is spoiler content or not, just know that if you have strict definitions of spoilers- don’t read this…).

What if Frodo got assassinated by Sauron and Sam had to finish the quest?

And I thought to myself, Expletive Deleted Because There Is A Child In My House. Hell. Yeah.  Nobody likes Frodo anyway.  He’s like the least interesting character/entity/thing in the entirety of Lord of the Rings.  Honestly they should just replace the blurb entirely with that one line.  Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?!

So.  Kel Kade is turning the Chosen One trope on it’s head, which is maybe my least favorite trope, and I absolutely can’t wait.

Which new releases are you looking forward to?

Top Ten Tuesday: Series to Finish

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is a freebie.  I decided to go with series I’ve started and haven’t finished yet.  Usually when I find a series I love I read them all back to back.  For whatever reason- these are series I enjoyed and still want to finish, but stalled on somehow.

Tensorate by J.Y. Yang – I enjoyed The Black Tides of Heaven, but I think the reason I stalled out on this series was that it felt complete as it was.  I also wasn’t thrilled about the character featured in book two.  Regardless, these aren’t a huge time commitment, and I’d still like to finish… Someday.

The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski – (Sorry- I can’t figure out how to link to the english version of the series.)  So I will say- that while I haven’t been disappointed with the Witcher (I adore Geralt) it doesn’t quite live up to the masterpiece that is the game, which is why I think I haven’t continued.

The Grail Quest by Bernard Cornwell – I have no good reason for stalling on this series.  I loved Thomas of Hookton and I love how the little easter eggs Cornwell left for it in Agincourt.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – This is a series I never finished because the stupid bookstore didn’t have a copy on hand of Golden Son and had to order it.  In the meantime I picked up three other books and never got back to it two weeks later when it finally came in.

The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – This series hasn’t been completed yet because I miss Eugenides.  Everything about these stories is pretty simple, and without his POV it’s been difficult to get into the rest of the books.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King – Not even going to lie- The Gunslinger is just not very good.  I’ve been told the series gets better, but it hasn’t helped me get to it any faster.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – Yeah, yeah.  I’ll get to them someday.  Maybe when they are finished?!

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff – I enjoy these stories because of the format (pictures, texts, wiki files) but that’s the only real appeal for me, which is why I haven’t been in any rush to read the third book.

The Wild Dead

The Bannerless Saga by Carrie Vaughn – Book one, Bannerless, was a rare five star read for me.  I’m not sure why I never continued with The Wild Dead.  I think it’s another case of book one being complete enough to act as a stand alone.

Planetfall by Emma Newman – I know why I haven’t moved forward with these other books yet and it’s because I was less than pleased with the ending of Planetfall.  I didn’t get the sense it was a question to be answered in later books, it felt like a standard issue non-ending.  I’m willing to give book two a try, because people say such good things about these books, but another ending like that and I am done with this series.

State Tectonics by Malka Ann Olders

Centenal Cycle by Malka Ann Older – I love this series and I think they are way underhyped for what you get.  They’re diverse, and feature all kinds of cool tech with some bad-ass women protagonists.  The only reason I never got to State Tectonics was because I read the first two with a group of buddies and we somehow never ended up setting a date for book three.

What about you?  What series have you started and not finished?

 

 

What’s on your shelf?

One of my favorite ways to see at a glance whether a book might be for me is to look at how people have shelved that book on GoodReads.  Skipping to the last page of Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett I see this (please excuse my terrible highlighting):

Foundryside Shelves

I don’t know what backstabalicious is exactly- but it sounds like something I’d read.  Of course, my own GR’s shelves aren’t nearly so exciting.  In addition to the “Read” “Want to Read” and “Currently Reading” shelves, I have three other exclusive shelves: “Read-Me-Maybe” (books that haven’t convinced me yet, but I don’t want to forget), “On-Hold” (technical DNF’s that I want to come back to when I’m in the right mood), and “Up Next” (to help me juggle multiple library reads and ARCs).

Aside from those three, I’ve got 38 other shelves, tracking things like genre, ARC approvals, book club reads or challenges I’ve taken part in… standard stuff to keep me organized.  The rest of them tell me (or I guess other readers) something about the book.  None are quite so creative as backstabalicious, but they are a great go-to when I’m trying to find something to recommend someone.

Awesome Characters: 28 books
Blogger Recs (this shelf is newer so please forgive it’s low count): 14 books
Easy Fun Reads (usually fast paced, straight forward writing, and a few laugh out loud moments): 38 books
Horror but not that kind of horror (books reserved for those living in the 9th circle of hell): 3 books
King Arthur (to track Arthur or Arthurian retelling books): 8 books
SK Recommended (SK being Stephen King): 1 book (I’m still following through on this idea)
Translated: 14 books
Upcoming: 58 books

Now that I’ve established how thoroughly unoriginal I am – let’s take a look at some other fun shelves I’ve found, and the books that occupy them.

Apocalypse AF

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig – Strange pandemic sweeps the land and turns a group of people into Sleepwalkers who cannot be put back to bed.
A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher – It’s right there in the title.
Salvation Day by Kali Wallace – Deadly virus on an abandoned space exploration vehicle is at risk of being freed.
After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson – Doomsday preppers put all their hard work to good use.
The Pandora Room (Ben Walker #2) by Christopher Golden – Pandora’s Box is found at an archaeological site, and a deadly pandemic is released.

Kickass Women

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley – A Beowulf retelling.
Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence – A young girl trains to be a deadly assassin while being hunted by her enemies.
The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam #2) by Margaret Atwood – Two women navigate a new world after the old one is effectively ended by a natural disaster (a flood perhaps?).
Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach – Female mercenary takes a security job on a cursed space ship.
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay – A collection of stories about “difficult” women.  Not SFF, but still something I really want to read.

Bromance

Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell – The First Cantor of the Greatcoats fulfills the last mission his King ever gave him with besties Kest and Brasti.
Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations #1-2) by Michael Sullivan – Two rogues, a thief and a mercenary, are framed for murder and on a run for their lives.
The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch – A group of conmen known as The Gentleman Bastards attempt a heist and get caught up in a conspiracy.
Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence – Prince Jalan Kendeth, a minor royal, journey’s across the land with a Norse warrior to undo the curse placed upon him.
Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames – Old mercenaries set out to rescue the daughter of one of their band mates.

Books That Make You Work For It

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway – In a dystopian future, a detective investigates the death of a civilian in government custody by navigating her memories, kept and recorded by The System.
The Terror by Dan Simmons – The crew of the HMS Terror are stranded in the Arctic circle while an unknown creature stalks them in the night.
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – A family moves into a house that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.  A terrifying mystery to be solved with color coded words and vertical footnotes.
The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur #1) by Hannu Rajaniemi – I’m just going to drop the first line of the synopsis here because it’s so intriguing: Jean le Flambeur gets up in the morning and has to kill himself before his other self can kill him first.
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall – Eric Sanderson, suffering from acute memory loss as a symptom of severe dissociative disorder must unravel the clues left behind by his first self to solve the mystery of what happened to him.

A Bright and Terrible Future

Too Like the Lightning (Terra Ignota #1) by Ada Palmer – In a utopian future, a plot is unveiled that will shake up the foundations of everything the people who built it believe in.  (It feels terrible to reduce this book to that one sentence- my review is here.)
Borne (Borne #1) by Jeff VanderMeer – Climate fiction and biotechnology have ravaged the world.  Rachel discovers a new piece of biotech that resembles a plant and keeps it as a pet.
Children of Time  (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Earth is dead and the last of the human race must find a new home.  The only problem?  The new home is already inhabited…
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan – In a world ruined by climate change – one man goes north while everyone else flees south to bury his mother and grandmother’s ashes in their homeland.
Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse – Five teens spread across time are linked by one common thread in a world dominated by technology and social media.
Whew- that was a long post. I think I added another 20 books to my TBR.  So what about you?  What do you have on your shelves?

Book Review: The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

This was one of my June buddy reads with the Sci-fi Fantasy Book Club on GoodReads.  (If you enjoy buddy reads, it’s a great community, and there’s almost always someone that is happy to join in with you!)  Instead of including quotes with this review I’ve included some images of surrealist art featured in the book (and I’m giving credit to Nicky Martin’s Graphic Annotations from which I found them).

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

Rating:  ★★★

I think China Mieville is an author whose ideas I’m in love with, and then struggle to connect with.  I also think I’ve picked the wrong books to start with (the first one being Kraken).  The Last Days of New Paris is an alternate history of Paris after France falls to Nazi occupation.  A secret group of resistance fighters called the Main a Plume (I think) has brought to life various things from surrealist paintings (called manifs) to help them fight the Nazis.  We follow MC Thibaut, a member of the main a plume, as he wanders the ruins of New Paris searching for a way out.

I am an amateur of velocipedes by Leonora Carrington

“I am an Amateur of Velocipedes” by Leonora Carrington (1941)

My issue with a lot of this book, is that honestly, I just didn’t understand the narrative.  I understood the overall story arc, what happens to each character, how things came to be, etc. but if I was trying to put together a timeline and location of events for someone else to follow, I wouldn’t make it very far.  I constantly felt like I was missing some key piece of information- asking myself “where are we now?” and “why are we here?” and “who are you again?”.  It’s very frustrating.

The Elephant Celebes by Max Ernst

“The Elephant Celebes” by Max Ernst (1921)

I think I’ve said this before, I don’t mind working a little harder to understand a book, but the pay off needs to be worth it.  I didn’t feel like it was worth it here.  The characters, while they had some cool abilities, just weren’t anything special.  You ever meet someone who speaks, maybe not in monotone, but without a lot of inflection?  Rarely shows enthusiasm or feeling about anything in particular?  Never smiles or laughs? Thibaut felt that way for me (and granted, there probably wasn’t a whole lot to laugh about in Nazi occupied France).  Sam was better, but she’s more of a side character.

Psychological Space by Victor Brauner Wolf Tables

“Psychological Space” by Victor Brauner (1939)

The “magic” system (if it can be called that) is very cool and totally unique and I loved some of the imagery we are given, but magic systems alone have never been enough to sell me and there wasn’t a whole lot explained about this one.  There was a little bit of humor in the book too, which I appreciated.

My favorite part of the book was the afterword, in which Mieville tells a very bizarre story about how he came to write this very bizarre story.  I couldn’t decide if that story was truth or fiction, or if the person he talks about is some kind of dimension hopping hero or someone who suffered dementia, but it was still a cool addition to the book.  I wish Mieville had included it as a foreword, because I think understanding the context in which this was written goes a long way toward understanding the story overall (so if you decide to try this, read that first).

Exquisite Corpse by Andre Breton

an untitled exquisite corpse by André Breton, Man Ray, Max Morise, Yves Tanguy (1927)

Overall- a story worth reading if you are a fan of Mieville, but I don’t think I’d recommend it as a starting point.  I think I’ll give one more book of his a try (I already own The City & The City after all) but if it turns out to be another three star read I think I’m going to have to part ways with Mieville.

The Last Days of New Paris can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Imaginary Friend Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Genre: Horror

Length: 720 pages

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Blurb (from GoodReads): We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

Why I’m Excited For It:  I was curious, when I read that this is the same author who wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  These seem like two very different books, (unless I have a gross misunderstanding of what Perks..of a Wallflower is about- please do let me know).

Aside from being a new-to-me author, this story is exactly the kind of story I love.  An epic fight between good and evil in a small town and (maybe?) a kid to save the day.  It sounds an awful lot like something King could have written, and you all know how I feel about King.

What new releases are you looking forward to?

Book Review: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Rating:  ★★★★

Blurb from GoodReads (minus the spoilery parts): Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead.

Wanderers is far from the first novel of its kind- an epic, sprawling, apocalyptic story, that evokes memories of Stephen King’s The Stand, Justin Cronin’s The Passage, or Robert McCammon’s Swan Song (admittedly, the latter two of these I have not read).  And I don’t think anyone would be wrong to compare this to any of those that came before- Wendig often mentions many of these books by name, almost poking fun at the derivative nature of his own story.  But I would say there is one key difference between Wanderers and the others.

Wanderers spends a lot more time on the actual downfall of man kind.  It isn’t really until 75% of the way through that readers get to see what the world looks like when most of humanity is dead or dying.  For that reason, some might find this to be slower paced than those others, but for me it amped up the stakes.  It forces the reader to think about what it would really be like to know human civilization is coming to end, the enormity and devastation of that statement. It doesn’t skip straight to the part where the survivors are just trying to survive.  You spend most of this book wondering if there will be any survivors at all.

The characters were full of depth, likes and dislikes, talents and flaws, hopes and desires.  They grow and they change.  It has been a long time since I’ve seen a full cast of characters in which I felt each was given sufficient attention.  None of them feel like background characters.  None of them feel unimportant.    There was one that made me groan a little when his parts came along- but I think it was more the nature of his character than it was that anything was wrong with him, but his arc is probably one of the better ones in the book.

The pacing on this story is pretty slow- I’d say it’s driven forward by the mystery/intrigue of what’s happening to the sleepwalkers more so than the action.  But the way the mystery and the plot unfolds is so natural, and even as we gain answers we also gain more mysteries, until most of the mysteries are solved and the action starts to ramp up.

There was a surprising bit of science in this book that I expected to fall more in the realm of horror or fantasy.  I really enjoyed it and it added a level of “realness” to the story that made it all the more terrifying.  I can’t dive into this too much without spoilers, but I read the acknowledgements at the back and Wendig’s research seemed pretty thorough, though he admits he’s not sure how accurate it ended up.  It sounded real enough for me so… *shrugs*.

Finally, without spoilers, I will say the ending disappointed me a bit.  It was way too ambiguous and the reader doesn’t get any closure to some of the character’s story lines.  It kind of crushed me to get that sort of ending in a book I invested 780 pages worth of my time into.  It felt like a cop out.  So I deducted a star.

Otherwise, I think this is absolutely worth reading, especially if you enjoyed these sort of books or are a fan of Wendig’s work.  I’ve been craving an epic I could sink my teeth into and get lost in, and this hit all the right notes.

Wanderers can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

 

Three Quick Book Reviews

I’ve actually finished several quick books the past week or two and I’ve been avoiding reviewing them because they were just the sort of books I didn’t have much to say about afterwards.  So I’m going to just give quick impressions here.

avld_amo

Rating:  ★★

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis (or: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” my tag line, not the book’s.) This is the review I’ve been dreading most because I wanted so badly to like it and just couldn’t connect with it at all.  It’s a collection of bizarre short fiction mostly incorporating some kind of romance and/or alien contact.

With a title like Alien Virus Love Disaster– I was expecting something weird, yes, but also something funny.  Like the Stephanie Plum of alien books.  And it was just dark, depressing, despairing.  There isn’t a single shred of hope in the whole darn book.  Not one tiny story.

I gave it two stars instead of one because on the upside, the stories are unique and inclusive.  I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like them, and I can see how they would be right for someone, just not me.  I wanted to laugh, I wanted to be uplifted, and instead I ended up dragged down in a way I wasn’t prepared for.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Rating:  ★★★★

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (abridged, narrated by: Rupert Degas):  I know what you’re thinking.  “But Sarah, didn’t you just completely rip apart the last book you read by Cormac McCarthy just a few short weeks ago?”

Why yes, blogger friends.  Yes I did.  But I rewrote that review three times because I couldn’t get Blood Meridian out of my head.  And to me, the hallmark of a good book is one you can’t stop thinking about. (It’s the best 2 star book I ever read, lol.)  So I borrowed this on audio on a whim from my library.  Unfortunately all they had was the abridged version, so I can’t tell you what I missed out on, but I can tell you I would give this a go eye reading the full version.

The narrator, Rupert Degas, did a phenomenal job (except for his girly voices, which are weird, but only a small part of the book).  His voice is perfect for this kind of grim, desolate, post-apocalyptic world.  Hearing it instead of reading it solves a lot of McCarthy’s style choices.  The narrator was able to convey dialogue and made the issues I had with a lack of punctuation almost nonexistent.  I think audio is a good way to be introduced to McCarthy.

Anyway- our two MCs are Man and Boy.  They are traveling The Road to get South.  America’s population has been decimated by some kind of sickness.  What’s left are the good guys and the bad guys.  Man and Boy are “good” guys, as good as good can be in this world anyway.

The environment itself is the biggest challenge, lugging around supplies, enduring weather, falling trees (I got the sense the trees were all dying).  And when they encounter bad guys, it gets grim and dark real fast.  The message of the book is that hope and beauty can still be found in even the darkest places, I think, because despite all the many, many low points, there were still some significant high and happy points.

McCarthy’s writing really is beautiful and often reads like poetry.  I wasn’t glowing or gushing when I finished it, but I didn’t find my mind wandering too frequently when I listened, and that’s usually a challenge for me.  I’d definitely recommend this if you enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction.

Trigger content: again, if you have them I sort of must insist that you avoid McCarthy at all costs.  Nothing is off limits for him.

Stephen Kings N. by Marc Guggenheim

Rating:  ★★★★

Stephen King’s N. by Marc Guggenheim, illustrated by Alex Maleev – This is a graphic novel adapted from Stephen King’s novella of the same name found in his collection: Just After Sunset.

I enjoyed this- the art work was great and dynamic, and the mystery sucks you in right from the start.  It starts with a letter from a woman to an old friend talking about her brother’s death.  From there we flash back to where it all started.  The brother was a psychologist working with a patient who developed OCD after visiting Ackerman’s field in Motton, Maine.

It wasn’t quite a full five stars for me because the whole story is pretty ambiguous, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and will definitely check out the novella.  If you decide to pick this up, don’t skip the foreword.  Guggenheim pays a beautiful tribute to a good friend and makes clear his fondness for King and his excitement over this project.  I’d love to see more of King’s short stories adapted into Graphic Novels turned into Graphic Novels.

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Rules for VanishingRules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Author: Kate Alice Marshall

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Genre: Horror

Length: 416 pages

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Blurb (from GoodReads): In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs.

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?

It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.

Why I’m Excited For It:  I was born in 1986, and I grew up in the 90s, and I love the 90s the way Wade Watts loves the 80s.  (Okay, maybe I don’t love it that much.)  Anyway- The Blair Witch Project released in 1999 and I remember renting it (yes like from a Blockbuster) and watching it for the first time with my Dad with all the lights out.

In all honesty- neither of us liked the movie much.  We were disappointed it was less horror, and more hysterical.  But!  Anytime I see mention of that movie I get pretty nostalgic and ooey gooey inside from remembering the first (maybe only?) time I saw it.

I recently was able to read a couple sample chapters on Bookish First, and I fell in love with it right away.  Sara feels like a believable character, the mystery surrounding her sister’s disappearance is intriguing, and the setting is New England (Massachusetts, to be precise).  The book also incorporates a solid ghost story/legend, and I will always be a sucker for a good ghost story.

Rules for Vanishing releases on September 24, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-read Authors

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is auto-buy authors, and truth be told, I don’t have any…  For starters I don’t have a lot of disposable income, and secondly, I have a fabulous library system.  If I’m diligent about getting my holds in, I really don’t have to wait long for books I want to read, and I’m usually able to pick stuff up right around release.  So instead I’ll talk about authors whose new release books are automatically added to my TBR.

Circe_MM

Madeline Miller – I still need to read Song of Achilles, (and I already own it, I just haven’t gotten to it yet), but I’d love to see where she goes next.

tb_sdc

Sebastien de Castell – I adore his Spellslinger books, and I still need to finish them, but I’m also eagerly waiting for him to get back to adult stuff, because when he writes for an adult audience, stuff gets pretty tense. (Next Release: Crownbreaker (Spellslinger #6), Dec 2019; Our Lady of Blades, ?? – low key freaking out about this one, hadn’t heard of it before right now, I’m okay….).

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

Jeff VanderMeer – I don’t talk about VanderMeer very often, and weirdly, I wouldn’t qualify him as one of my favorite authors, but his stuff is so unique and so bizarre, that I add everything he writes to my TBR. (Next Release: Dead Astronauts, Jan 2020; A Peculiar Peril, July 2020)

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Ann Leckie – She’s another one that I wouldn’t say is a favorite, but she’s also pretty inventive so I’ll keep reading.

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Nick Harkaway – Again, I have some catching up to do with Harkaway, but much like Leckie and VanderMeer, Gnomon had such a unique voice, that whenever he gets around to putting out something new, I’ll be there.

Infomocracy

Malka Ann Older – I’ve got State Tectonics still on my TBR, and I’m working on the last episodes of Ninth Step Station now, but I love how her world building all feels futuristic, without feeling like I’ll never see it in my lifetime.  (PSA: There is now a second season of Ninth Step, AND The Centenal Cycle books are all on a monthly Kindle deal right now!)

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P. Djeli Clark – I’d really love for him to write something longer than a novella!  Something that I could get lost in for a weekend.  Either way- whatever he writes, it’s going on the TBR.

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Nnedi Okorafor – Still working my way through her backlist, but at this point anything/everything she writes is going on the TBR. (Next release: LaGuardia, July 30, 2019; Antar: The Black Knight, Nov 2019; Remote Control, Jan 2020)

So that’s eight- and then of course, I have the following obligatory authors that worm their way onto every list:

Ian McDonald, Ada Palmer, Mark Lawrence, Stephen King, Joe Hill and Bernard Cornwell.

Who are your auto-buy/auto-read authors?  Leave me a link below so I can check it out!

 

Book Review: The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

Rating:  ★★★1/2

Blurb (from GoodReads): Sally Jensen–once a famous astronaut–thought her days in space were over. She was wrong.

The object entered our solar system, slowed down off the rings of Saturn, and began a steady approach towards Earth. No one knows what its purpose is. It has made no attempt at communication and has ignored all of NASA’s transmissions.

Having forsaken manned flight, the space programs of the world scramble to enlist forcefully-retired NASA legend Sally Jensen–the only person with the first-hand operational knowledge needed to execute a mission to make contact.

With no time to spare she must lead a crew with no experience farther than mankind has ever traveled, to a visitor whose intentions are far from clear…and who, with each passing day, gets closer to home.

The Last Astronaut doesn’t waste too much time getting to the heart of the issue, which I loved. it maintained a pretty quick pace throughout the book, alternating between bouts of action and bouts of discoveries about this alien object. The setting and tone are consistently dark, grim, desolate, and lonely. The image of lights on a space suit cutting through a misty darkness were used repeatedly, which is perfect for this kind of book.

Which is why it baffles me that I didn’t love it more than I did? Unfortunately, and this could just be the mood I was in, I found it really easy to pick this book up, but I also found it really easy to put the book down. I never dreaded picking it up again, and I definitely wanted to finish, but I wish it had compelled me a little more, kept me up late at night because I just had to see what happened next.

I will say the last 25% had me glued to the page so it ends much stronger than it started. If I had to pinpoint where I struggled with this book I can point to two factors, one of which is a spoiler, but the other of which is the characters. I did like all of them, but I think the character I connected to most, Sunny Stevens, the guy who kick starts the whole book, is absent from the 2nd half. He is the comic relief, he is the character that feels most alive to me. All the other characters are serious, grim types. Which is fine- most scientists probably are that way, but I really needed his jolt of personality to keep me caring about the events of the book. The other characters all feel human enough, I wouldn’t say any of them feel shallow or flat, but they just weren’t characters I connected to. Your mileage may vary.

The writing is great. Descriptive enough to give you the idea and convey the tone without lingering too long on it or slowing down the pace. The length also feels just right. At 400 pages, we’re given just what is needed to tell the story, it’s not bloated but it doesn’t feel like any details were left out either.

The format of the book is that we are reading an in-world book that has been written about these events after they have happened. It’s interspersed with little side snippets of what I thought of as confessions or transcripts from the characters themselves talking to (who I presume) is NASA. I personally enjoyed the format, and it definitely added a layer of impending doom to many of the scenes, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

The ending is perfect, and I won’t lie, it made me tear up a little. Overall a good read that’s well worth checking out if you like a good alien, sci-fi horror mash up. Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit for providing me with an eARC for review.

The Last Astronaut releases on July 23, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.