Book Review: The Broken Heavens (The Worldbreaker Saga #3) by Kameron Hurley

The Broken Heavens by Kameron Hurley

Rating:  ★★★★

The Broken Heavens is the third book in the Worldbreaker Saga (be warned, possible spoilers for book two ahead). I enjoyed it even more than the previous two installments. All the issues I’ve had with the previous two books, the chaotic POV shifts, the occasional lack of clarity, the excessive description, were trimmed away neatly and left me with just the story. Of course, it could also be that by the time we reach the last book in any series there’s simply not much extra left to tell.

The Broken Heavens takes place about one year after the events of Empire Ascendant, in which the Tai Mora successfully invaded the Dhai territory and left most of our main characters scrambling in the wilderness. If you’ve been following the trilogy up to this point, you know that we said goodbye to some characters in book two, and the improved focus and amount of quality time we were able to spend with each character in book three made me appreciate them all that much more. (I also noticed that Hurley took the time to start each first line of every chapter with a character name, which was one of my main complaints about book one.)

The action is almost non-stop from the very first page and the story didn’t feel at all bloated. Every chapter left me wanting to know what happened next. Perhaps most importantly, at no point in this book did I ever feel like I could guess what was coming next. I genuinely had no idea how it would end or which characters would survive. This series had already surprised me so much. It’s refreshing and feels completely unique.

If I have one complaint- it’s that this book occasionally felt like it had everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. I don’t always mind this, but in a series that feels so gritty, a fantasy that feels like it’s meant to be taken a little more seriously, I found myself occasionally rolling my eyes. I think it would have been fine if there had seemed to be some more rules governing these things, or references to them happening in the past, but at some point I just had to shrug my shoulders and accept that this was a fantasy world in which anything goes.

Overall- I’m glad I finished out the trilogy. I don’t think it changes drastically enough to make it worth reading if you didn’t enjoy book one, but if, like me, you felt a little ‘meh’ about it, I can say that each book is better than the next.

The Broken Heavens released on January 14, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher for supplying a review copy.

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Or What You Will by Jo Walton

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.Or What You Will by Jo Walton

Title: Or What You Will

Author:  Jo Walton

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Length: 320 Pages

Release Date: July 7, 2020

Blurb: He has been too many things to count. He has been a dragon with a boy on his back. He has been a scholar, a warrior, a lover, and a thief. He has been dream and dreamer. He has been a god.

But “he” is in fact nothing more than a spark of idea, a character in the mind of Sylvia Harrison, 73, award-winning author of thirty novels over forty years. He has played a part in most of those novels, and in the recesses of her mind, Sylvia has conversed with him for years.

But Sylvia won’t live forever, any more than any human does. And he’s trapped inside her cave of bone, her hollow of skull. When she dies, so will he.

Now Sylvia is starting a new novel, a fantasy for adult readers, set in Thalia, the Florence-resembling imaginary city that was the setting for a successful YA trilogy she published decades before. Of course he’s got a part in it. But he also has a notion. He thinks he knows how he and Sylvia can step off the wheel of mortality altogether. All he has to do is convince her.

Why I’m Excited For It:  Jo Walton convinced me of her brilliance with her Thessaly series, which remains one of my favorite fantasy series to date.  Her characters are flawed and human feeling, and her stories unpredictable and fresh feeling.

This book sounds no different.  I feel like I’ve seen a few of the books coming to life trope in the past couple years, but couple that with the fact that this is told by an elderly woman teamed up with a YA character… I hope it will take me on a few unexpected adventures.

What new books are you excited for?  Leave me a link below so I can check them out!

Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Freebie

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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 book cover freebie.  I’ve been so winter focused and we’re just getting rid of snow after a week where I am, so I’ve been craving books that take me to a warmer place.  Even if that warmer place isn’t actually any place you want to be.  A lot of these are super recognizable so I’m not going to break them all down- just leave them here to warm your day.  (Unless of course you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case I still hope you find something you might like to read.)

Have you read any of these?  Do you have any favorite books set in the jungle?  Which covers did you pick for this week’s topic?

Book Review: Followers by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo

Rating:  ★★★★

Followers is a story about the power of social media, and also a warning about the dangers of oversharing. We follow the timelines of two women. One is Orla and her story starts in 2015. The other is Marlow and her story is taking place in 2051. Orla is a blogger with dreams of publishing a book living in New York City with a roommate, Floss, an up and coming social media star. Marlow is living in a town where her every movement is recorded and broadcast to her 12 million followers. She gets one hour of privacy a day, between the hours of 3 and 4 am.

When I first started reading, I was immediately swept away by both narratives. I thought they were both cleverly plotted and paced. The writing was sufficient (good- but maybe not particularly memorable). The cast, mostly all women, was fantastically done. They are all flawed. They have dreams and desires and needs outside of romance and families. They are all at times, unlikeable (I don’t mean that as a critique- I love stories with unlikeable characters).

Each chapter ends on a note that left me immediately wanting more of that narrative, but then would dive into the alternating point of view. I think for some that could be a frustration, but it only took me a few paragraphs to get me reinvested in the other story line. It did feel a little bloated after about the 2/3s mark. I ultimately slowed down and wasn’t reading a hundred pages a day. But not enough to really hinder my enjoyment.

There are references to a weird internet related disaster event throughout the book (called “The Spill”), and at times I wondered if I would ever get answers or if it would just be this vague point on a timeline, but eventually all is revealed. It does require a little suspension of disbelief I think, for the fallout of the event, but I enjoyed the overall moral enough that I was willing to look past it.

I deducted a star ultimately, because the ending was frustrating for me. It wasn’t the ending I wanted for Marlow. I think the characters all grew sufficiently, their stories are resolved, and we aren’t left wondering where any of the characters end up. It’s hard for me to get over a “bad” ending (again- the ending isn’t bad or even unhappy, just wasn’t what I wanted). It sort of soured my otherwise awesome experience. Your Mileage May Vary.

I highly recommend the book and am looking forward to reading more from Angelo in the future.

Followers released on January 21, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher for supplying a review copy.

Book Haul!

Hello friends! I haven’t been too consistent since I returned from a small hiatus over Christmas and New Years.  I’m hoping to get that fixed next week.  There were lots of household chores that needed catching up on too.

I’ve been on a no book buying ban for quite some time- but I still love the book store because it’s much easier to browse my local Barnes & Noble than it ever has been my local library, which groups all the fiction from every genre together.  (Why?!)  So between having a longing to browse and a gift card and a big B&N sale, I picked up a few things.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – This was in my 20 in ’20 list, and the price was right and I’m in love with the cover.

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved.

In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.”

Full Throttle by Joe Hill

Full Throttle by Joe Hill – And it’s signed!  Which seems silly but I love Joe Hill.  This isn’t on any list or challenge that I had planned, but it’s Joe Hill and I’ve been meaning to read it since it released last October.

“In this masterful collection of short fiction, Joe Hill dissects timeless human struggles in thirteen relentless tales of supernatural suspense, including “In The Tall Grass,” one of two stories co-written with Stephen King, basis for the terrifying feature film from Netflix.”

The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne – Spotted on the clearance racks.  What pulled me in was the description of the scenery, which is marshy, swampy, jungle-ish.  Every once in awhile I get a craving to read something in this sort of setting.  I am a little worried about there being scenes of child abuse (which I don’t like) but I decided to take a chance on it because it’s told from her perspective as an adult, so I’m hoping flashbacks are few and far between.

The mesmerizing tale of a woman who must risk everything to hunt down the dangerous man who shaped her past and threatens to steal her future: her father.

Helena Pelletier has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a business that fills her days. But she also has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in nature, and despite her father’s sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learned precisely how savage he could be.

More than twenty years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marsh. The police begin a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. Knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King–because only one person was ever trained by him: his daughter.”

After the Crash by Michel Bussi

After the Crash by Michel Bussi – This is a bit outside my typical comfort zone, since it sounds like more of a mystery than a thriller necessarily, but I picked it up because I’m always curious to see how struggles between the working class and upper crust elite play out.

On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?

Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl’s hands. But, as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything – then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone…”

Killing Gravity by Corey J White

Killing Gravity (The Voidwitch Saga #1) by Corey J. White – Picked this up for Kindle.  It was on a deal for $1.99 not too long ago (it still might be).  No idea what a voidwitch is, but I definitely want to know!

“Mariam Xi can kill you with her mind. She escaped the MEPHISTO lab where she was raised as a psychic supersoldier, which left her with terrifying capabilities, a fierce sense of independence, a deficit of trust and an experimental pet named Seven. She’s spent her life on the run, but the boogeymen from her past are catching up with her. An encounter with a bounty hunter has left her hanging helpless in a dying spaceship, dependent on the mercy of strangers.

Penned in on all sides, Mariam chases rumors to find the one who sold her out. To discover the truth and defeat her pursuers, she’ll have to stare into the abyss and find the secrets of her past, her future, and her terrifying potential.”

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire – I grabbed this for FREE this morning.  I know I’m like the only person who hasn’t read it yet, but just in case any of you wanted to check it out.  Nicole @ Book Wyrm Knits recommended it to me, and you can check out her spoiler free review of the most recent book here.

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.”

And that’s all the ones from January anyway.  Have you read any of these?  What did you think?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books Added to my TBR

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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 the last 10 books added to my TBR, which is pretty self explanatory so I’ll just jump in.

Into the Wild Warriors by Erin Hunter

Into the Wild (Warriors #1) by Erin Hunter – This was recommended by a friend at work to read with my daughter.  She’s not quite into books without pictures yet, so I’m saving it for later.

Hella by David Gerrold

Hella by David Gerrold – Brought to my attention just last week by Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy in one of her Future Fiction posts.  To be honest, I’d have added this for the cover alone, but the blurb mentions oversize flora and fauna, dinosaur herd, and neurodiversity.  I need this in my life like – yesterday.

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett

Shorefall (Founders #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett – I haven’t read the first one yet- but this one was added by default when I entered the GoodReads Giveaway for it.  Figured if I’d won it would give me the incentive to prioritize it.

A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings #1) by Kevin Hearne – Hearne is another one of those authors that has multiple books on my TBR.  I’ve heard mixed things which is why I’ve put him off for awhile.  This particular book was added to my TBR, again, by a GoodReads Giveaway.

Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang

Vagabonds by Hao Jingfang – I originally spotted this on NetGalley.  I didn’t end up requesting it, because I’m trying to refrain from doing so this year, but I was intrigued enough to add it.  It’s set in the future and is about an old conflict between Earth and Mars that both planets are now trying to resolve.  It sounds really unique and I’m super excited for it!

Agency by William Gibson

Agency by William Gibson – Another author that has multiple books on my shelf.  The blurb on this one is pretty sparse, but I was willing to take a chance because the author is fairly well known.  Again- this was brought to my attention through a GoodReads Giveaway.

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – Historical Fiction is a genre I love and don’t read enough of.  I went through a brief love affair with all things Shakespeare a couple years ago when that show Will was on air.  A fellow reader and reviewer brought it up in one of my GoodReads groups and mentioned it was really well done, so of course it was an immediate add.

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall – I think I originally spotted this on Edelweiss.  I added it strictly because the title caught my attention, but the blurb sounds really good.  A woman is murdered and her two best friends are let behind to unravel her secrets after her death.

Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay – Because there is no such thing as too much zombie fiction.

A Conjuring of Assassins by Cate Glass

A Conjuring of Assassins (Chimera #2) by Cate Glass – The sequel to last year’s An Illusion of Thieves- I’m super excited for this!

And that’s it!  Which books have you added to your TBR recently?

Book Review: The God Game by Danny Tobey

The God Game by Danny Tobey

Rating:  ★★★★

This book is so much fun from the moment you pick it up until the very last page. It’s a book about a group of teenaged friends who call themselves the Vindicators. They are the smart kids, enrolled in honors classes with dreams of ivy league schools. They code and belong to the robotics club.

And at the urging of a friend, they join in on a virtual reality dark web game called The God Game. Either you win or you die. But not really.. right?

At first the game seems harmless. It’s easy to earn gold and make the “good” choices (there are a lot of moral conundrums at play here). Gold can be traded for awesome stuff. But the game increases in difficulty.  Players can reap fantastic rewards, if only they’re willing to step on a few heads first.   They can also earn Blaxx.  A kind of strike against you that will lead to punishment if you accumulate too many.

I really enjoyed all the characters. They all have secrets to hide and are motivated by different things: romantic relationships, college, parents… The plot lines twist and turn and keep you guessing. As the players are sucked deeper and deeper into the game you wonder how they’ll ever make it out.

I was about halfway through the book when I realized how cleverly plotted it all was. I love when a book sets things up and circles back around to them later, and it was done brilliantly here. By the end, it will require some suspension of disbelief, which is why it wasn’t a full five star read for me.

A couple notes about style: this is a book with short chapters that jump between several POVs. For me, that style works perfectly, but I know it’s not for everyone. Though this is written about teenagers it’s also not a YA novel. I was surprised about how dark it all becomes, so content warnings: child abuse, domestic abuse, off screen animal abuse, self harm / suicide attempts, and general violence.

The God Game released on January 7, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher who sent an ARC for review.

Books on a Budget

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t have a lot of disposable income.  It can be an issue when you’re reading 100+ books a year.  I know a lot of us, as bloggers receive free copies for review, but if you’re just starting out as a book blogger and still trying to establish your presence as a reviewer, reading can quickly become an expensive pastime.

Over the years I’ve become pretty adept at finding deals on books!  It can take a lot of effort and patience, if like me, your TBR hangs out in the 700 range, but it’s usually easy to maintain once you’ve put it together.

eReaderIQ

eReaderIQ

A lot of fellow readers I know utilize eReaderIQ.  It’s pretty easy to use, and there are two ways to use it.  The simplest way is to check it daily for price drops.  You can put limits on minimum or maximum prices,  search by percentage off, and sort by genre.  The second way to use it, is to make an account, add books to a watch list, and get an email notification when a book you want has reached a certain price.  You can also add authors to a watch list, and get a notification any time one of their books drops in price.

Advantages:  It’s nice to receive email notifications, and once your watch list is all set, you don’t have to do anything else unless you add or remove books from that list.  Another thing I love is looking at the price watch history.  You can see the lowest price point the book has ever been offered at, and their algorithms will make recommendations to purchase or wait based on the frequency and current price point of the sale.

Disadvantages: It only pings books about once a day (and some Kindle deals are known to drop for only a few hours.  If you have an author you love who also has a common sounding name (Stephen King, Mark Lawrence) eReaderIQ doesn’t seem to differentiate between THE Stephen King and that other guy who also happens to be named Stephen King.

Tor.com Free eBook of the Month

Tor.Com Free eBook

This is one of my favorite offerings from one of my favorite publishers.  Simply sign up here, and receive an email notification whenever a new book becomes available for download. (Their new one is available for download right now!)

Advantages:  It’s totally free, no review required, you get an email notification, and don’t even have to set a password.  It is available as a Kindle download and a PDF file I believe.

Disadvantages: You don’t get a choice.  Often times the book is being offered for free because there is a sequel coming up Tor would like to encourage you to purchase.  Additionally, for a few months I made the mistake of trying to send the books to myself via my phone.  Now those books are only on my phone (and I really am not keen on reading them there).  And since Kindle has no record of a purchase, I can’t even utilize the Content and Devices feature to transfer them to another device.  Hardwiring my phone to computer doesn’t make a difference either.

GoodReads Giveaways

GoodReads Giveaways

I have pretty good luck with GoodReads Giveaways.  I won six last year.  Which is admittedly, a very small fraction of my reading, but it still always brightens my day when I wake up to get one of those emails.  I do think the fact that I have been reviewing regularly on GoodReads for three years factors into this.  I know that reviewing your giveaway wins on GoodReads factors in.  The good news is, I don’t think that anyone really polices what you write in terms of your review, so simply putting a little blurb in there like: I won this and I am so excited to read it!  Sort of tricks the system into believing you’ve reviewed it.

Disadvantages: Winning is random and not guaranteed.  The offerings are not always what you are looking for.  Reviews are expected and I haven’t found GoodReads to be incredibly forgiving in terms of timeline.  I’m a mood reader, so I’ve sometimes made the mistake of entering giveaways with no real intention of reading the book soon after receiving it.  Not reviewing the book has definitely led to not winning for long periods of time.

BookishFirst

BookishFirst Giveaways

This is another giveaways type site.  You can sign up here and check out all the rules.  The way it works is, you read a sample, and give it a first impression review.  When you complete your first impression, you can check a box saying whether you’d like to be entered into the raffle to win a physical ARC of the book, and I believe they have since added an option to receive a kindle version.

Advantages: There’s no real barrier to entry.  You don’t have to meet certain stat requirements for your blog or follower count.  Anyone who is willing to review the book can give it a try.  Out of the 4 raffles I entered, I won 3, so success rate is pretty high, as I think this site is less widely known than some of the others. (Disclaimer: I have not entered one of these raffles since 2018.)

Disadvantages: It’s still randomized and there’s no guarantee of winning.  You’re still expected to get your review up in a timely manner.  There aren’t always a lot of options.  (This week they appear to only have two books on raffle.)  Sometimes the samples are large and reading the first impression can be time consuming, and annoying because it’s done on a computer.

Amazon Wishlists

Amazon Wishlist

This is my current preferred method for tracking ebook deals.  Most of my GoodReads TBR is on an Amazon Wishlist.  I check it every morning, sort the prices low to high, and see what prices dropped that day.

Advantages: There are a good many price drops that are not always advertised on the Kindle Daily or Monthly Deals page.  Hunting through eReaderIQ can sometimes be laborious, and there is no guarantee they’ve caught the price drop yet.  The wishlist is in real time. Furthermore, you’re only looking at the prices of books you actually want to read. I sign up for all the deals emails, BookBub, BookPerk, The Portalist… but I don’t often look at them because I don’t need to be tempted by something simply because the price is low.  I’d rather pay full price for a good book than a dollar or two for a bad one.  The Amazon Wishlist cuts out the temptation.  If a book made it there, it’s because I know I want to read it.

Disadvantages: Maintaining and adding to this list (or taking the item away if you’ve changed your mind) can be time consuming.  Mine is in need of updating and I’m loathing the idea.  It’s very easy for this wishlist to grow out of control.

Other sources: These are mostly email newsletters I receive letting me know about various sales happening on eBooks.  I tend to have the best luck with BookRiot, it sends a daily digest and info about giveaways (though I’ve never won one of those) and BookBub is okay.  The Portliest focuses on a lot of the classics.  Book Perk is sponsored by Harper Collins, but Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Random House both publish similar newsletters for their own books.

BookBub

Book Perk

The Portalist

BookRiot Deals

I couldn’t not give a shout out to my local library who has or can acquire just about anything my SFF loving heart could desire.  And a special, special thank you to all you local used bookshop owners, for feeding my reading addiction.

How about you?  What’s your method for saving money on books?

Book Review: A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

A Beginning at the End by Mike Chen

Rating:  ★★★

This is a story about what happens after the “end of the world”. We follow four characters and their intertwining stories: Moira (or MoJo) an ex pop star trying to escape her past and stay hidden from her father, Rob, a widower figuring out how to move on with life after the tragic passing of his wife, Krista, a woman trying to make something of herself and forget her terrible childhood, and Sunny, Rob’s daughter, a kid growing up in a post apocalyptic world.

The story started fairly strong. I liked all the characters. They seemed fully fleshed out. They were mostly likable. They had their own wants and needs and desires. Their stories and the way they intersected was interesting, even if a little mundane (think wedding planning, parent teacher conferences, etc.).

Here’s the thing. When a book says “post apocalyptic” I’m expecting there to be much less civilization present. The world building didn’t make a lot of sense to me for a post apocalyptic story. Most of the Earth’s population was wiped out by a flu virus (think 1 billion left alive out of 7 billion). Some people have gathered in the cities and are trying to rebuild. They still have internet, cell phone service, and apparently french fries and cheeseburgers. Most people suffer from what they call “PASD” or, “Post Apocalyptic Stress Disorder”. They go to group meetings for support. They hire bounty hunters to find their loved ones.

Some pockets of people reject that way of life and go out to start a new way of life centered around farming. Others apparently remain as bandits and gangs in the deserted lands between the cities. The world just seemed too populated to really be considered “post apocalyptic”. Was the flu a major disaster? Sure. But nothing about the world really felt like it ended. Things in post apocalyptic life in the metro centers seem mostly normal. There is still flight travel and buses and customs checks and such. I guess in the end I just didn’t buy into the world building.

It was really driven home when one random character states the metro(s) of New England are still struggling due to winter storms while Minneapolis was doing alright. Minneapolis gets more snow then much of New England. South of New Hampshire and Vermont (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut) winter is actually pretty mild. Where I’m from, it’s rare that snow lasts more than a week. New England just isn’t that fragile. I realize this is one tiny line in the whole book, and yeah, sometimes southern New England has a brutal winter, but as a whole it felt overwhelmingly under researched.

Another example (warning, spoilers ahead) is when the government decides that Sunny would be better off without her dad because her dad, who holds a job and raises her alone and yeah, is grieving, but otherwise okay, is “unstable”.  And in order to rebuild society, family units need to be stable.

You know what will screw up a kid real fast? Being ripped from a loving home. Again, I just don’t buy it. Whatever Rob did was done out of love. He was not abusive. He did not abuse alcohol or drugs. He was providing. Taking a seven year old away from her only family is about the quickest way I can think of to destabilize them. Sure, government workers are sometimes incompetent, but in this book none of it rang true. (Aside from the very obvious, why doesn’t Rob just pack up with Sunny and move?!)

The nature of this story is more sappy sweet than I like, and for it to work there are a lot of conveniences built in. I did read through it fairly quickly, and it could be entertaining if you are willing not to look too closely at it. People will likely compare this to Station Eleven, and those comparisons aren’t entirely inaccurate, but unfortunately, A Beginning at the End is simply not as well done.

A Beginning at the End releases on January 14, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher who provided an ARC for review.

Reading Challenge: 20 in ’20

I love me a reading challenge.  I rarely finish them but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying.  And sometimes they do help motivate me.

I’m borrowing this challenge from the Captain at The Captain’s Quarters.  I’m using it to help me catch up on books and authors I should have already read a very, very long time ago.  I listed the number of ratings each book has on GoodReads after the title and author.  I thought it would be fun to see how many others have read them before me.  Spoiler: Eight of them have more than 100,000 ratings, and all but one have more than 10,000 ratings.

Simpsons Shame

These are books that seem destined (or maybe already are) considered to be classics of the genre.  Books that for some reason or other I keep putting off.  Maybe the blurb doesn’t speak to me the way I want it to or I already attempted them multiple times (I’m looking at you The Name of the Wind) and just never finished, but didn’t dislike enough to officially DNF.

11-22-63 Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King : 386,635 – This is the oldest book on my TBR.  I own it.  It was one of the first I added to GoodReads back in 2015.  I think it’s the time travel that’s putting me off.  I realized a couple years ago time travel and all it’s wonderfully mind bending paradoxes sort of puts me off.

The Name of the Wind Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss : 642,245 – I’ve started listening to this multiple times.  I even made it like halfway through on a road trip to Ohio once.  It’s just so long.  Also- I’m putting it back on Rothfuss since there’s no third book in sight.

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Spakowski Witcher 3

Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski : 62,301 – I was reading these before the show was a thing.  Right after I sank like 500 hours into the very wonderful Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game.  I don’t know why I keep putting it off.  I was excited for this too since it’s the first full length novel set in the Witcherverse.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson : 83,654 – This one is just intimidating because of it’s length.  And the fact that it’s hard science fiction.  Which always goes over my head.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells : 45,161 – There’s a lot of Murderbot love circulating out there.  But I heard that Murderbot likes to watch TV (who doesn’t?) and I became a little concerned it wasn’t going to be what I wanted it to be.  My expectations have been reset, which is a good thing, but also caused me to drag my feet in picking it up.

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles #1) by Bernard Cornwell : 34,056 – I don’t even have a good reason for not having read this one.  Favorite author.  Favorite subject.  Good reviews.  It was actually pretty hard to find (I wanted to purchase it and no bookstore ever seemed to have it).  I did finally track down a copy, I just need to make the time.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey : 142,112 – Why are there so many books in this series?  The thought of reading all nine is a little daunting, but I know this is well loved by several readers I trust.  And hey- maybe by the time I finish the series will be complete.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson 1

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) by Steven Erikson : 82,296 – I’ve heard this book comes with a steep learning curve, which is why I’ve put it off for so long. But now that I’m thinking of it, the same could be and has been said of two of my other favorites: Too Like the Lightning and Ninefox Gambit.  So who knows.  Maybe it’ll be a surprise favorite.

The Shining and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King : 1,027,773  & 165,444 – I wanted to read both before seeing the new Doctor Sleep movie (and maybe The Shining).  I’ve started The Shining at least twice that I remember.  It’s just so darn slow.  But it’s hard to feel like a real Stephen King fan when I haven’t read it.  So.  2020 will be the year.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky : 43,448 – I started this during a bad reading slump and just never finished.  Not because it wasn’t good, I got further with this than I did any other book during that reading slump.  But somehow it’s always harder to go back to something you’ve started previously.  Anyway- this book gets lots of love in my virtual book club so it’s becoming a priority.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.jpg

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood : 207,217 – Here’s a super shameful secret.  I’ve never read a single thing Margaret Atwood.  A lot of it has to do with her attitude toward genre fiction and her insistence that she doesn’t write it.  It just feels really disrespectful to her readers, not to mention seriously out of touch.  Anyway- I don’t have much interest in The Handmaid’s Tale though I would like to check it out someday so I’m going with this one.

Malice by John Gwynne

Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen #1) by John Gwynne : 13,583 – After coming to the sad conclusion the Abercrombie is not quite what I’m looking for, I’m hoping Gwynne will fill the void.

Brian McLellan Sins of Empire

Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #1) by Brian McClellan : 9,573 – Military Fantasy.  I realize it’s not something that everyone gets excited about, but when the action scenes are written well I think it’s probably one of my favorite subgenres.  I have high hopes for this.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb : 212,259 – She has written so much that I think I really just didn’t know where to start with Hobb.  This might not be the best place, but I already own it, so…

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson : 255,777 – I’ve never read Sanderson.  And honestly just the blurb has me cringing away in fear.  But it has all these awards and a super high rating and like everyone has read it except me… So I’m obligated, right?

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow #1) by Anthony Ryan : 66,267 – Ryan has been on my radar a long time.  I finally read something by him last year, A Pilgrimage of Swords.  It was a quick novella and not necessarily one of my favorites, but it was because I wanted more of what I’d read.  Hoping this scratches that itch.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy #1) by N.K. Jemisin : 46,482 – This series isn’t nearly as popular as Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, but I tried The Fifth Season and it just didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to.  I think the abused children sucked a lot of the joy out of it for me.  But I do like her style and I think this one might be more my speed.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi : 30,774 – Nope.  Haven’t read Scalzi either.  This is likely to be a group read for February, so I might as well read him in a group setting and see what all the fuss is about.

The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K Le Guin

The Word for World is Forest (Hainish Cycle #5) by Ursula K. Le Guin : 14,121 – I actually have read Le Guin before.  I wasn’t a huge fan of A Wizard of Earthsea – but it was a middle grade book and I don’t have a great history with YA or children’s books anyway, so I’m willing to give her another shot.  Especially knowing how well loved she is.  I picked this one to continue with because I love a good forest setting.

And there it is!  My 20 in ’20.  I’m really excited for some of these and feeling pretty hesitant on others, but either way, I hope to be more educated in my two favorite genres come 2021.  Many thanks again to the Captain for letting me tag along with my own Ports for Plunder.

Have you read any of these?  Are there any super popular books out there you haven’t read yet?