Book Review: Eden by Tim Lebbon

Eden by Tim Lebbon

Rating:  ★★★

Eden is a science fiction eco-thriller in which a group of extreme sports enthusiasts and supposed environmentalists race through one of the last places on Earth that has been reserved for nature. Eden is known as a Virgin Zone, a place where all the humans have been relocated, and whose borders are agressively protected by paramilitary groups (Zeds? Zions? I don’t really care).  These places have been given back to nature in an effort to preserve them from human pollution/poaching/ deforestation/etc..

I had been looking forward to this since I first heard about it.  It sounded like it might be one of those SciFi-Horror crossover books I’m so fond of (a la Crichton) and best of all it was set in a jungle- which is one of my favorite settings for a book (especially one that contains elements of horror).

Which is why I am so very displeased to tell you that this is probably one of the most mediocre, vanilla, unexciting books I have ever fucking read.

I didn’t even know it was possible to write a Science-Fiction-Eco-Thriller-Horror-Genre-Bender that was this fucking boring.

First of all- the character motivations don’t make any sense.  Supposedly all these characters care deeply for the environment.  They believe in the purpose of the Virgin Zones.  They think what humans have done to the planet is horrible.

So what the hell are they doing violating the laws of these zones? Contaminating these pure zones with their presence?  For bragging rights?  I don’t buy it.  And judging by the number of times the author made his characters repeat some justification of their actions, I don’t think he really bought it either.

But that’s not really my problem with this book.  I can get down with a good popcorn thriller where the idiot victim is running up the stairs instead of outside.  It’s basically my favorite kind of book (and movie for that matter).

What is not forgivable, is that the big bad guys are a lynx, a coyote, and a wolf.

First of all.  I thought Eden was supposed to be what was left of the Amazon Rainforest.  None of those animals are native to that area (I have yet to even mention the grizzly that shows up- I’m not spoiling this. I’m doing you a favor.).  I am willing to accept that perhaps I am mistaken about where Eden is set.  I still think that these are ridiculously boring choices for what is supposed to be a horror book.

It was borderline insulting. As if the author put no thought or effort into the book at all. Like these were the first animals he thought of so he went with it and never bothered to edit them into something more exciting (hell I would have accepted the bear- but it gets no action).

Jurassic World More Teeth

Why yes, Dr. Wu.  Yes I did.

What about a crocodile?  A huge nest of giant poisonous spiders?  An anaconda?  A leopard?!  A terrible alien predator thing with too many teeth?

Forgive my rambling.  The characters weren’t too terrible for what they are.  I can’t say I cared too much for any of them but it’s not the kind of book you read for it’s deep character building.

There wasn’t much suspense built in. The author reveals his hand too early, doesn’t take the time to build up the suspense properly.  There are subplots that don’t make much sense…. ugh.  The reason for the animal attacks is never given any explanation or thought (and frankly, that subplot was a lot scarier than what actually happened).

I know this is a very rant-tastic review so I’d like to close this by saying Eden isn’t really as bad as all that… but it’s also not worth reading. I’d check out Devolution by Max Brooks if you’re looking for something in this vein.  Or a re-read of Jurassic Park.  Or pretty much anything else. #SorryNotSorry

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Book Haul

Even though I wasn’t reading this summer- it didn’t stop me from buying books. What can I say? I have a problem. Barnes & Noble had a great sale a couple weeks ago so I picked up a few things.

Afterland by Lauren Beukes

In a world where most of the men are dead (after an event known as Manfall) a mother and son flee across the country in search of a safer place, encountering anarchist communes and crazed cults. I’ve read a couple books by Beukes now and while they each left something to be desired – the blurb on this one is too good to ignore.

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George

Historical Fiction has always kind of been my first love, especially anything relating to Greeks, Romans and Vikings. So of course, when this was released a couple years ago, it caught my attention. This is a different look at one of Rome’s most famous Emperors, that one that fiddled while Rome burned.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

I’ve already seen the movie- but this seemed perfect to keep away one of my longest reading slumps. It’s relatively short, the chapters are quick and suspenseful. Malerman has a sequel out to this now called Malorie that I’d also like to read, but I knew I couldn’t pick it up until I’d actually read this one.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key is about a nanny who takes a job in a smart home in the Scottish Highlands. What she doesn’t know is the children are a nightmare, the parents are absent, and the “smart” home has it’s own ideas about how to operate. This was another book that seemed perfect for my current reading mood so I picked it up on a whim.

That was it for this haul- but I’m excited to share some of my other summer purchases too! I’ve already made it through two of these books and loved them. Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

On a side note- this is my first time using WordPress’s new Block Editor. It’s okay but also kind of weird? So I apologize if the formatting is wonky. Might take some getting used to.

Book Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Rating:  ★★★★

I read SGJ’s Mapping the Interior late last year and was very impressed.  So impressed in fact, that I went through and added just about everything he’d ever written to my TBR.  So of course I was very excited to read this.

The premise is this: ten years ago, four friends embarked on an illegal hunting trip.  They knew what they did was wrong.  They did it anyway.  Now, something evil is hunting them back.

The story started out very strong.  I heard the term literary horror for the first time last year in reference to another book, and that phrase kept popping up over and over again in my head while I was reading this.  There was symbolism, biting social commentary, the imagery and tone were perfect.

There were times in reading this I was genuinely unsure if I wanted to continue- not because the book was bad, but because it was just that dark.  I cherished every single word I read in that first fifty percent.  I cared about the characters, I cared about Lewis’s marriage.  I cared about their friendships and their pets.  If this had been a novella, and had ended after Lewis’s part, I think it would have been damn near perfect.

However, after Lewis’s part, we shift POVs.  And while I enjoyed those parts too, I think the problem was that I was already so attached to Lewis I wasn’t ready to leave him.  I do wonder if I would have enjoyed this a little more if those parts had been switched around.  I don’t think either Gabe or Cass came across as sympathetic as Lewis did, so it was difficult to become reinvested in their story lines after finishing Lewis’s.

There’s a lot of basketball in this story – so the parts of this that talked about basketball I sometimes drifted off.  I’m less than five feet tall and have always been more inclined towards mental gymnastics then physcial ones, so it’s just not my thing, though I think it was used very well here.  Basketball seemed to make up a decent chunk of the second half, so the pace felt inevitably slower, hence the 4 stars instead of 5.

This is very much a supernatural story with a very supernatural ending, so if that’s not your thing this may not be for you.  The horror aspect is brutal and visceral – so consider yourself warned.  It won’t be for everyone.

But if you think you can cope with it- I highly recommend trying this out.  I was even more impressed with this than the last SGJ book I read, and I’m eager to read his other works.

The Only Good Indians released on July 14, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

Have you read The Only Good Indians?  What did you think?

Top Ten Tuesday: My Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

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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.

I missed this topic a few weeks back, but there are SO MANY amazing books to be released this year.  I keep finding new ones to gawk at and feeling overwhelmed at the amount of reading I have to do to catch up.

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett (Sept 15, 2020)- This is the prequel I never knew I needed.  It’s a Kingsbridge novel set during the Viking Age.  A KINGSBRIDGE NOVEL SET IN THE VIKING AGE!!!  A favorite series by a beloved author during my favorite time period.  It’s like Follett wrote it just for me.

War Lord by Bernard Cornwell

War Lord by Bernard Cornwell (Nov 24, 2020) – I’m sorry to start this list with two pieces mostly unrelated to my blog content- but when I found out about this title just a couple weeks after Follett’s, it felt like Christmas was coming early. I’ll probably sob my whole way through this book because I know it’s the last but I have never loved any fictional character as much as I love Uhtred.  I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Oct 13, 2020) – I’ve been eager for this too, since I first heard about it in spring.  Although her Sixth World series (that starts with Trail of Lightning) wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, I loved her short story, Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience and I’m hoping to see more of what drew me in about that story here.

The Trials of Koli by MR Carey

The Trials of Koli by M.R. Carey (Sept. 15, 2020) – The Book of Koli has undoubtedly been my favorite read so far this year, so I can’t leave it’s sequel off the list.

The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski (Oct 27, 2020) – I can’t tell if this is set in the same world as The Witcher, but regardless I’m thrilled to see this.  It’s been around for quite some time, but it’s never been translated before. I’ve seen some reviews that said this is Sapkowski’s best, so even though there’s no Geralt, I’ll be there with bells on.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (Oct 6, 2020) – We all know how much I love horror, and while I still haven’t had a chance to try Kingfisher, I’m super excited for this.  The blurb reminded me of House of Leaves and also like the Horror version of Ten Thousand Doors of January.  No idea how that would work exactly but I’m there for it.

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones (Sep 1, 2020) – After the most excellent Mapping the Interior, and the even more excellent The Only Good Indians (RTC), consider me an official fan of Stephen Graham Jones.  This is what I think of when I hear the term literary horror and it’s brilliant.

Beowulf A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley (Aug 25, 2020) – According to the author’s twitter, the first word of this book is “Bro” and Grendel’s mother “is a warrior woman, not an ugly troll woman”.  I was thrilled with her modern contemporary retelling- The Mere Wife, and I am so excited for this modern feminist translation of Beowulf.

Confessions on the 745 by Lisa Unger

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger (Oct 6, 2020) – I’m in love with the premise of this – two strangers confess their problems to each other on a train. A few days later, one of those problems mysteriously disappears…

The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Relentless Moon (The Lady Astronaut #3) by Mary Robinette Kowal (Jul 14, 2020) – Okay, so this one is cheating, since it’s already been released, but I haven’t read it yet. It is on hold at my library though!  If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend checking it out (starting with the short story The Lady Astronaut of Mars).

I’ve been out of the loop – so I’m curious, which new releases are you most looking forward to?

 

Overdue: Apologies and Book Reviews

Joey back baby

Hello friends!! I want to start by apologizing for disappearing out of the blue in such turbulent times, and thank those of you who reached out to check in.  We’re all safe and healthy, for which I am grateful.  I’ve been in a strange place- trying to homeschool my daughter and work full time while also feeling fairly isolated from other adult contact and feeling paranoid everytime I had to leave the house.

It didn’t make for a good time to read, and I ended up gaming and binging movies all weekend because I couldn’t focus enough to read.  I tried, and my eyes drifted off the page every two minutes. And then by the time I figured out I wasn’t going to be able to read any time soon and therefore wasn’t going to be able to blog any time soon – it felt like too much time had gone by to double back and put any sort of notice up.

So again- I’m sorry, but please know how much I appreciated it when you all reached out, if only to check in and say hi.

Dog Sorry giphy

That being said- I took a vacation a couple weeks ago, and was able to get a couple books read! And though I seem to have less reading time on my hands now that I’m back home I’m still trying to keep up.  I’m moving slower than I used to so bear with me if posts are still infrequent.

I have tons to catch up on, so I’m going to start with my long overdue review of:

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre, by Max Brooks

Devolution by Max Brooks

Rating:  ★★★★

I posted a Can’t Wait Wednesday about Devolution back when I first heard about it- and that excitement never waned.  When I attempted to read over the past few months, this was the book I picked up.

It starts a little slow- an introduction to the world and the characters, their relationships with each other.  It took me until about the 25% mark to get into the unputdownable parts.  Is it a little over the top? Yeah.  Did I care?  Nope.

The sasquatch (es? what is the plural of sasquatch?!) in this book reminded me a lot of the creatures encountered in Michael Crichton’s Congo, and I ate up every second of it.  There was tree knocking and howls, rock throwing and glowing eyes in the dark.  It was exactly what I hoped for.

It was both similar and different to Max’s previous success, World War Z.  It’s similar in style – where WWZ was an oral retelling, this is told mostly in journal entries.  It’s different because it is told primarily from one POV – Kate’s. I found this style much better suited to my tastes, because with the journal entries felt like one cohesive, connected story, not bits and pieces of a much larger story.  There’s no knowing how or if Kate survived, only that her journal did.

There were parts that made me cringe away in horror and parts that had me holding my breath.  The atmosphere and tone were perfect.  I only deducted a star for the slow beginning.

If you liked WWZ, if you’ve ever wondered about the existence of sasquatch, I’d definitely recommend this! It’s a fun summer read with a creepy tone.  Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley who provided a free copy in exchange for a review.  Devolution can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

If you read Devolution and I missed your review – please link to it below! I’d love to know what you thought.

 

Book Review: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Rating:  ★★★★

This is my second time reading Hendrix and it did not disappoint. The first time I read Horrorstor, and it felt fun and a little campy, and I listened to it on audio. I read a physical copy of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires and it was a very different experience.

The premise is that Patricia, a housewife in South Carolina, gave up her career to be a wife and mother. She takes up reading in a book club with five friends. They read true crime novels. When a new neighbor moves in down the street, and fishy things start happening around him, Patricia starts to suspect the new neighbor may be up to no good, but everyone agrees Patricia is just letting her reading get to her head.

There aren’t any real twists or turns in the plot. Everything is pretty much as it seems. Which works in this instance because it allows the author to build suspense. There were several scenes where I felt like I was holding my breath. Is there such a thing as white knuckle reading?  I was doing that.  A good portion of my reading is comprised of horror and thriller books, so that’s probably one of the highest compliments I could pay this.

The characters aren’t the most robust I’ve ever encountered, but the author does a good job of fleshing them out. They each have their own little quirks and idiosyncrasies, different relationships with each other and with their husbands. Warning: the way women are treated in this book will make you want to scream. They are discounted as silly. Their thoughts, opinions and feelings meaningless, and treated like objects.  I don’t think Hendrix was endorsing this behavior – I think it was more based on what he read and observed growing up (afterall, he said the inspiration for this book was his own mother).

There are some graphic scenes, and there are things that happen off page involving children under the age of 10 which are terrible. I’m putting it here as a warning for people who would rather avoid it. I think the beginning of the book is a little misleading in that it’s fun and campy, like Horrorstor, but ultimately takes a very dark turn.

I thoroughly enjoyed this in the end, despite the semi depressing ending, and look forward to reading the next book from Hendrix.  The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires released on April 7, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher who sent a free review copy!

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 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.

Someday, when I bust out of this reading slump, or conquer all these ARCS, I’m going to read whatever strikes my fancy for a month.  So there’s likely no sticking to this list.  Here’s what I’m excited about, ARCs or No.

11-22-63 Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King – Planned buddy read with the fabulous Nicole @ Book-Wyrm-Knits!  I’m holding you to it. End of May.

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi – This was gifted to me by the equally fabulous Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy!  Thank you!  I can’t wait to read it.

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway – Gnomon was a mind bender that made me work for it.  While I think I’ll put this off until my reading slump is definitely over- I’m eager to get back to his work.

Full Throttle by Joe Hill

Full Throttle by Joe Hill – Now that I’m thinking about it, a Joe Hill anthology is probably exactly what I need to dump the slump.  Short attention spans aren’t really an issue in a book of short stories.

Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee The Machineries of Empire

Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee – I want to get this read before I forget what happened in Nine Fox Gambit!  (For a review that explains the Machineries of the Empire better than I ever could, please check out Ola’s review at Re-enchantment of the World.)

Killing Gravity by Corey J White

Killing Gravity by Corey J. White – This was a Tor Freebie not too long ago.  It’s a novella so perfect for the amount of attention I seem willing to give books lately, and one that’s been on my radar for awhile.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel – This is one of the few ARCs I have that I am still super excited for!  It also is neither fantasy or sci-fi, so it will give me a much needed break from the genre.

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon

Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon – This is another that falls outside my usual genre, but I’m eager to get to it.  I’ve heard great things about Lawhon and historical fiction usually makes me all happy inside.

The Last Kingdom Saxon Stories 1 by Bernard Cornwell

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell – Keeping with the theme of Historical Fiction (and in my desperation to seek out comforting reads in turbulent times) I’m eager to reread this.  Especially since the final book in the Saxon Stories was recently announced.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones – Because Horror.  That’s it.

 

We all know I’m not likely to stick to this TBR… and there are probably 30 other books I could put here.  What have you got planned for the spring?

Top Ten Tuesday: One Word Titles

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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 One Word Titles.  Titles are rarely what attract me to a book, but they are sometimes intriguing.  So I’m going to attempt to pull the most interesting one word titles out of my TBR.

Hammered by Elizabeth Bear

Hammered by Elizabeth Bear – I think this is one of the few I added because of the title.  I think Hammered might have something to do with robotics, but at the same time it sounds to me like the MC might spend a lot of time at the bar…

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk – Every time I start talking about Fight Club, someone jumps in and recommends Choke.  I added it more because of the overwhelming number of recommendations I was given, but I still think the title is intriguing.  Who is choking precisely?  Are they choking someone else or choking on something?  Or is this just the sound people make when they try to say the author’s last name?

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – I love this title because of the whimsy it implies.  It reminds me of Alice in Wonderland- I just imagine all sorts of odd things happening in Neverwhere.

Feed by M.T. Anderson, Feed by Mira Grant, The Feed by Nick Clark Windo, and Feeder by Patrick Weekes – When I was looking through my options for this week’s TTT, the word Feed stood out to me.  I found it in five different titles, one of which I didn’t include here because it was two whole words (and not a fake word like ‘the’ obviously.)

Amazonia by James Rollins

Amazonia by James Rollins – I’ve actually mentioned this book before- but it sounds very Crichtonesque.  Soldier goes into jungle missing an arm, comes back with both.  WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?  So of course I added it.  But what first attracted me was the title- because I love all things set in a jungle.

It by Stephen King

It by Stephen King – One word. Two letters.  King has a lot of one word titles to choose from- but none are so terrifyingly vague as It.  That thing that takes all the forms of your worst nightmares.  It’s lurking in the sewer and in the caves.  You cannot escape It.  It is coming for you.  And most horrifying of all… It’s length.

Satantango Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai – I discovered this a couple years ago when I was attempting to read more translated works.  It sounds like a small town drama, which are the best kind.  Also- how could you not be intrigued by a title like Satantango?

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson – I think one word titles are difficult to make interesting- but it’s hard not to be grabbed by this word.  I like this title because the word is interesting, invented while sounding real, and manages to give you some clue as to what the book is about.  I’d guess some sort of puzzle solving, but here it’s more code breaking.

Synners by Pat Cadigan

Synners by Pat Cadigan – Synners wound up on my TBR because I was searching for a top 50 best SFF books of all time, assembled from as many sources as I could find.  This book kept popping up as one of the most underrated SF novels out there.  The title I like because phonetically it sounds like “sinners” while visually it reminds me of “synergy”.  I’m guessing the two meet somewhere in the middle.

Uncharted by Kevin Anderson and Sarah Hoyt

Uncharted by Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt – This title caught my eye because it shares a name with one of my favorite video game franchises of all times: Uncharted.  That game is more about the explorations of Sir Francis Drake then Lewis and Clarke, but I’m fond enough of the game that I couldn’t let go of the title and decided to go for it.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat put off by the scantily clad woman on the cover.

What do you think of these books?  Have you read any of them?  Which one word titles speak most strongly to you?

Month in Review: February 2020

Hello friends!  This wasn’t a great month for me blog wise- I had trouble not only getting my posts written on Sundays for the week, but keeping up with all of you.  Work has been relatively hectic and by the time I get home and get the kiddo ready for bed, I’m exhausted.  I’m aiming for a better March.  Reading wise- I did pretty okay considering it’s a short month and I wasn’t even reading on my lunch breaks.

Novels/Novellas Read: 10

Short Stories: 0

Pages Read: 3,076

Average Rating: 3.2

Female Authors: 5

Favorite Reads:

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier (RTC)

Other Reads Completed:

The Chill by Scott Carson

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

Grit by Angela Duckworth

The Resisters by Gish Jen

The Bear by Andrew Krivak

The Wolf of Oren-yaro by K.S. Villoso

Surrender by Ray Loriga

I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll review the backlist titles.  Grit was technically a DNF.  I read about 200 pages for work and just couldn’t stomach part three I was so tired of it by then.  My review for Surrender should be up later this week.

ARCs Received:

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – I haven’t even read the blurb because the title seems pretty self explanatory.  Now that I’ve read Horrorstor and understand the author’s style, I’m very much looking forward to it!

Devolution by Max Brooks – A mockumentary style telling of a Sasquatch attack.  Which ya’ll already know I’m super excited for.

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey – I’m also thrilled to have received this! It has a very strong man vs. nature vibe which I’ve been enjoying a lot lately.

I also received Little Secrets, pictured above, but ended up reading it sooner than expected.  It’s about a woman whose son was abducted, her marriage in the aftermath, and the mystery surrounding her son long after the trail has gone cold.

PopSugar Challenge 2020 Prompts Completed: 

A book with a made up language: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins (greed, envy): Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

A fiction or non-fiction book about a world leader: The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez (I’m not really sure I interpreted this prompt correctly, but I don’t foresee myself reading a fiction or non-fiction book about an actual world leader any time soon.)

A book by or about a journalist: Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

A book with a main character in their 20s: The Chill by Scott Carson

Other Posts for February:

Favorite SciFi Sub-genres

Book Review: The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Coming Up:

I’m hopeful this month will be better for me in terms of enjoying what I’m reading.  There weren’t many titles I walked away from in February feeling excited about.  I recently started A Time of Dread and it’s exactly what I’d been hoping for when I started reading Abercrombie a few months ago. Dark and bloody.

How was your February?