Blurb: For fans of World War Z and the Southern Reach Trilogy, a suspenseful oral history commemorating the five-year anniversary of the Pulse—the alien code that hacked the DNA of Earth’s population—and the response team who faced the world-changing phenomenon.Voyager 1 was a message in a bottle. Our way of letting the galaxy know we existed. That we were out here if anyone wanted to find us.
Over the next forty years, the probe flew past Jupiter and Saturn before it drifted into the void, swallowed up by a silent universe. Or so we thought…
Truth is, our message didn’t go unheard.
Discovered by Dr. Dahlia Black, the mysterious Pulse was sent by a highly intelligent intergalactic species that called themselves the Ascendants. It soon becomes clear this alien race isn’t just interested in communication—they are capable of rewriting human DNA, in an astonishing process they call the Elevation.
Five years after the Pulse, acclaimed journalist Keith Thomas sets out to make sense of the event that altered the world. Thomas travels across the country to interview members of the task force who grappled to decode the Pulse and later disseminated its exact nature to worried citizens. He interviews the astronomers who initially doubted Black’s discovery of the Pulse—an error that critics say led to the world’s quick demise. Thomas also hears from witnesses of the Elevation and people whose loved ones vanished in the Finality, an event that, to this day, continues to puzzle Pulse researchers, even though theories abound about the Ascendants’ motivation.
Including never-before-published transcripts from task force meetings, diary entries from Black, and candid interviews with Ballard, Thomas also shows in Dahlia Black how a select few led their country in its darkest hours, toward a new level of humanity.
How do you bust a reading slump?
Read ALL the books.
So I went to the library and got ALL the books.
Okay not really. Here’s what’s up next:
Initial impressions: The writing is excellent. I only read the first chapter but it was super atmospheric. It was very easy to picture the setting: people riding bikes and horse drawn carriages in the streets. A bustling city with soldiers coming and going. The shadow of war hanging over them all. The intrigue level is super high. Nothing is really explained. It starts out normal enough with a doctor leaving work for the day, and an emergency patient coming through. And then the magic and witchery starts. I was expecting more magical realism than straight up magic (which honestly is not really my thing) but I like it so far. It seems to be hinting at an underground mage society so I’m excited to see where that leads to. A promising start!
Initial impressions: First of all- GoodReads told me this was 182 pages long. It’s not. I’m willing to forgive it in lieu of the fabulous introduction from Stephen King. When he found this book, he said he was looking for a book about “how boys really are.” Golding’s influence on King is obvious. As I read through the first chapters I kept thinking it felt familiar. Finally I realized it was because it feels like King. The characters feel real, the prose isn’t overly flowery (though more flowery than King’s). I’m a little confused about how these boys got to this island, but so far that first chapter is the one that resonated with me the most, so I’ll be continuing with this one before the others.
Initial Impressions: This is confusing as hell.
Seriously- why do authors think writing without quotation marks is a good thing? Not cool man. I had to re-read a paragraph like eight times, move on, and then double back when I realized there weren’t any quotation marks (and honestly I’m still not sure I understood the conversation). Otherwise, the prose is spot on. I’ve highlighted a couple quotes I love already, and if it wasn’t for Lord of the Flies, this would have been my second pick to continue reading. I’m not sure what the judge’s deal is. I know he’s the big bad in this novel though, so I’m excited to see what it’s leading up to.
Initial impressions: I just read a book where a man gets shot in the chest, kills another man dead for taking his shoes, but pulling the wings off a fat little bumblebee bothered me more. There’s something wrong with me right? Anyway- I was immediately sucked in by the premise. A little girl meets a strange man. There’s something sinister happening with the strange man (Harper Curtis). That much is obvious from the start. He seems to hint that he’s acting under orders from some other organization, but that doesn’t make you like him any more. The writing is great and I’m curious to see where it goes.
Initial impressions: I think I’ve only really read the introduction and the prologue so far, but I’m a little disappointed. I’m still coming down from the high that was The Mere Wife, so I had high expectations. My favorite type of writing, my favorite type of book, is one that I like to describe as unapologetic. The author writes in a way that’s bound to make the reader uncomfortable, exposing all the ugly truths within a person or a society or practice, but so far this isn’t that. It doesn’t carry the same level of force that The Mere Wife does. Still, I haven’t read much so I’ll remain hopeful.
Initial impressions: I wasn’t really interested in The Queens of Innis Lear when it first released. The title, the name… it seemed like a pretty generic fantasy to me. It looked and sounded similar to Four Dead Queens and Three Dark Crowns, which all released at about the same time. But I recently stumbled across the title Lady Hotspur which I added strictly because of the title. When I checked out the blurb of that, it referenced this. So I doubled back to TQOIL and read the blurb, and thought what the hell. I liked King Lear, who not give it a go? I hope it maintains the humor and wit of King Lear throughout.
So that’s ALL the books.
Have you read any of them? Are they on your TBR?
Also- please send help.
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.
Author: L. X. Beckett
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 576 pages
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Blurb (from GoodReads): Neuromancer meets Star Trek in Gamechanger, a fantastic new book from award-winning author L. X. Beckett.
First there was the Setback. Then came the Clawback. Now humanity thrives.
Rubi Whiting is a member of the Bounceback Generation. The first to be raised free of the troubles of the late twenty-first century. Now she works as a public defender to help troubled indiviudals with anti-social behavior. That’s how she met Luciano Pox.
Luce is a firebrand and has made a name for himself as a naysayer. But there’s more to him than being a lightning rod for controversy. Rubi has to find out why the governments of the world want to bring Luce into custody, and why Luce is hell bent on stopping the recovery of the planet.
Why I’m excited for it: First and foremost- it’s Tor. They are without a doubt my favorite publisher of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m almost never disappointed with what they put out, and they publish many of my favorite authors (Jo Walton, Ada Palmer, and Ian McDonald to name a few). They are also pretty good to their fans, with generally low priced ebooks, a new free ebook offering every month, a short fiction newsletter quarterly, and more short stories easily available on their website.
Something about this cover reminds me of Too Like the Lightning (I have a feeling the cover artist is the same) and I’m hoping the contents of the book will feel similar too. What I loved about TLTL was the picture it painted of what the world might look like 400 years in the future. Aside from all the cool tech- Palmer totally reimagined government and societal values which was the most fascinating piece (to me). Gamechanger seems to be imagining a world 200 years in the future after it’s survived an apocalyptic event. I can’t wait to see what the author does with it, but I’m hoping for something that’s a vast departure from the world we currently live in.
Additionally- with a title like Gamechanger, I’m hoping for a high-stakes political game, twisting turning secrets, and a plot that will make my head spin. By the way- who decided September was the best month to release all the good stuff? My TBR is already full for September!
Which upcoming releases are you most excited about? Leave me a link below so I can drop by and check it out!
I am not in a reading slump. If I just keep telling myself it will be true right? It’s a little difficult to blog about books if you haven’t read anything in two weeks. However, over the weekend I did force myself to sit down and read the three graphic novels I think I’ve had checked out from the library for, I kid you not, nine weeks.
I’ve reviewed a lot of books, and I like to think I leave decent, well-rounded reviews. However, for whatever reason, it doesn’t translate well to Graphic Novels. I think because there is less to comment on?
For anyone unfamiliar with this series, Saga is about two people who fell in love while they were at war against each other. Everyone with a stake in the war wants them dead because it would be bad for people to know that there’s a chance that maybe they could all get along. To top it off the couple gets pregnant.
I won’t spoil too much about the plot- it’s an interstellar adventure with some very tense moments. I do think these last three volumes were significantly darker than the first three. We see the deaths of some characters that I managed to get pretty attached to, and some of the characters arcs take hard turns into the darker side of things.
Along the way we are introduced to a few new characters here and there. Some of which I enjoyed and others less so. The representation Vaughan includes is pretty thorough. There are characters of color and plenty of LGBTQ rep.
Fiona Staples is the artist and her work is amazing. I love the way she uses color, and it’s always a treat when there is a full panel drawing or concept included.
I did have to wonder a little bit, with Hazel starting kindergarten and all, why the governments are still looking for them. It seemed to me Alana, Marko, and Hazel would have fallen to the wayside what with the war going on and all.
One of my complaints about some of the previous volumes was that Marko talks in his own language which I’m pretty sure is made up. That trend continued here. I still don’t understand those panels, I’m not sure what they contributed, and I’m not sure why they were included. There’s no other explanation of what might be going on.
All in all it’s a small complaint, and Saga is very much worth checking out. I’m excited to see where these stories go in the next few volumes.
I’m in the process of job hunting right now, and life has been super hectic, so forgive me for not being present. I’ve done almost no reading this week. I’m still trying to keep up with all of your blogs though so forgive me if I miss a post or two!
From GoodReads: A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books, and ultimately destroyed by it.
In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers…[Then] Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found.
Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their disparate timelines overlap.
Time Was is a quick little novella. I feel that the blurb is really misleading though, and the actual blurb on GoodReads contains a spoiler, so I’ve left it out here. While this is in part Tom and Ben’s story, it’s actually more about a bookseller, Emmett, who stumbles onto their secret and becomes obsessed with finding them.
Much less exciting right? The buddies I was reading this with all agreed- we wanted more about Tom and Ben! The romance was lovely, but it was maybe 25% of the whole book.
The writing was sharp, concise, and atmospheric, as is typical of McDonald. He’s very good at forcing you to read between the lines, so at times I became a little lost. Especially the opening, which talks about digging around in a dumpster in LeBoutins for books, because I was still under the impression we were in WWII… and some of the POV/setting shifts weren’t incredibly obvious to me in those first couple chapters.
Both the buddies I read with guessed the ending (I did not) and were disappointed with that. There’s also the time travel aspect, which was not explained at all, highly unscientific, and left a lot of us confused.
In the end, the writing was great, and romance was wonderful, but we were all left wanting more. We had questions we wanted answered, and were sometimes bored with the main narrative. If you’re interested in reading McDonald, while this won’t take too much of your time, I’d still recommend starting with New Moon. I appreciate McDonald’s versatility, but this didn’t feel like a great representation of his ability.
Time Was can be purchased on Amazon here.
Release Date: May 28th, 2019
Length: 105 pages
I absolutely loved this novella from the moment I picked it up to the moment I put it down. It starts out very light. The protagonist is a funny guy. He’s lost on an alien artifact humans have been calling “the Crypts.”
The story is told in two timelines, present and past. The past timeline outlines how he came to be lost in the Crypts and tells us a little about the state of the world before he left earth. In the present, he’s wandering the Crypts encountering all manner of alien life.
The writing was very good. I enjoyed the stream of consciousness style here, and that isn’t always my thing. Tchaikovsky employed it very well. This was a context in which it made sense, and it was easy to follow. Another note about the writing, the present timeline is written in present tense. I know for some readers that can be an issue, but I enjoyed it and thought it brought an added level of excitement to the story.
The pace, initially, is ambling. There are a few exciting things happening, but what drew me in was the humor. Gary Rendell is just a guy you want to hang out with. There are some definite elements of horror, but they were balanced well with the humor. As we near the end the tone becomes darker and darker. Nothing is what it seems.
I have a feeling some of the science in this science fiction has no foundation in reality (disclaimer, I know nothing about physics), but there were several fun little nods to biology. Rendell comments on the way the various aliens are formed and how and why they might have developed that way and I thought it was a nice way to flesh out the MC. There were also a few nods to human psychology, and those passages were some of my favorites.
Overall I thought it was inventive and creative. I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy elements of horror with their science fiction or fans of Tchaikovsky’s other work.
Thank you to NetGalley and Solaris for providing me with an eARC to review.
Sylvain Neuvel is one of those authors I’ve had on my TBR for way too long. His work sounds interesting. I only ever see glowing reviews from my bookish friends. But I’ve had a hard time simply committing. I think it’s because Themis Files is a trilogy? I did the same thing with Ann Leckie and Jeff VanderMeer. I waited for them to release a standalone before I went back and read their trilogies, so I guess this is a common issue for me.
When I saw the description for The Test, which I’ve very purposefully left out here, I knew this was something I needed to read. Here’s all the blurb I’m including because to spoil anything about The Test is wrong: Idir is from Iran and he takes the British citizenship test.
I realize that doesn’t sound exciting, but what attracted me to it was the possibility for discussion of immigration and all the things that are wrong with modern immigration laws. While the book is set in England, I felt it was a theme that I could relate easily to the U.S. (you know, minus discussions of The Wall, sigh).
I’m happy to say it didn’t disappoint and started very much how I expected. Idir is asked a lot of questions that the average British citizen doesn’t know.
Question 4: King Richard III of the House of York was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in what year?…I have a feeling only the people taking this test know the answer to that question. What could anyone possibly do with that information?
But Neuvel takes it one step further, and discusses the racism, the prejudice Idir experiences as a Muslim and Iranian. How people can look at the color of a person’s skin and just assume they know everything about them.
We have been asked why we hate freedom, told to go back to the desert many times—I tell them I hear Dasht-e Kavir is breathtaking but I have never been. It is true—but not once has anyone asked me about famous battles of the fifteenth century. Maybe I should bring it up.
Idir’s resilience is admirable, and his character is immediately endeared to the reader because despite the fact that he takes it all in stride, even has a sense of humor about it, the truth is he shouldn’t have to put up with it at all.
From the very first chapter, you care what happens to him. This is a short book, only 112 pages, and can be read in about two hours. You want to see him succeed. So it’s saying a lot that you wanted to see him win after only one chapter.
Anyway, the book was very well written and the premise sucks you in right away with several unexpected turns, and I had a hard time putting the book down. If it had not been a work day, I’d have read it all in one sitting. Every chapter brought in some new element that had me on the edge of my seat. The stakes are high, and the consequences far reaching.
I only deducted a star because of the ending. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the ending that fit. It’s the ending it should have, objectively speaking. Subjectively, it isn’t the ending I wanted. Everything else about this is a 5 star read and I’d encourage everyone to take a couple hours out of their day and read it.
There is a lesson to be learned here. We are all more alike than we think.
There is some potential trigger content here, so if you’d like to know what it is, please mention it in the comments below. I wanted to avoid spoilers but I don’t want anyone to be caused unnecessary hurt by picking up the book either.
Description from GoodReads: Several hundred years after their arrival, the remainder of humanity lives in a utopian colony in which every want is satisfied automatically, and there is no need for human labor, struggle or thought. But when the machines that regulate the colony begin to malfunction, the colonists are faced with a test for the first time in their existence.
With the lives of the colonists at stake, it is left to a young man named Samuel to repair these breakdowns and save the colony. Aided by his friend Penny, Samuel rises to meet each challenge. But he soon discovers a mysterious group of people behind each of these problems, and he must somehow find and defeat these saboteurs in order to rescue his colony.
The above description is accurate, but if I could take it one step further and compare it to something, I’d say it felt a lot like an unofficial sequel to H.G.Wells’s The Time Machine. It’s not framed from the POV of a distinct narrator, but the setting, the tone, and the characters all felt very similar.
There isn’t a lot of action, or even dialogue in the beginning, but it does steadily increase as the story goes on. What pulls you in here is the intrigue. Why are the machines breaking down? Who are the people that fix them? What are all these notes about? It felt like watching one not-so-smart person try to solve an escape room puzzle.
The writing was great and the description was really pretty. I didn’t find a single proofreading or editing error, which is more than I can say for the past few books I’ve read. It’s also a very quick book. The chapters are short, there aren’t any side plots to contend with. I was able to read it all in the span of 24 hours. I appreciated that. (My tolerance for 40/50 page chapters, or worse, books without chapters, has been exhausted for the year.)
I do think the reader will see the end coming long before Samuel does, but I also think that was half the fun. There is an art to foreshadowing and Hickey used it well. The characters are a little flat, but this is very much a plot driven story, so I was able to forgive it.
I do have a couple critiques, but they are minor. Some of the world building was questionable. For example, the colonists drink their water straight from the river. They have a food machine that spits out food cakes, but no filtered drinking water system? It just seemed odd and I was sort of taken out of the story at any mention of drinking from the river.
The other thing I found a little questionable, is that words were used that I’m not sure Samuel would have known, given his experience with the world and the people he had been living with. At one point, late in the book he says/thinks “technologies” and it felt very out of place.
Overall, this is a very quick read that I think is well worth checking out if you were a fan of The Time Machine. Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Our Dried Voices can be read for free with Kindle Unlimited or purchased on Amazon here.
I’ll apologize, I haven’t been posting consistently. To be honest, I haven’t been reading a whole lot. Last year by April I’d probably read 25-30 books. This year I’ve read 23 things, 3 of which were graphic novels and 5 of which were short fiction pieces. I have a feeling I won’t make it to my usual goal of 100 books this year, and that’s okay.
I’ve been working on my own novel- which I’ve just about completed a second draft of, and I’m so excited to be putting finishing touches on it. It’s more or less become my second child (third if we’re counting the dog). On a side note, if any of my wonderful book buddies would be interested in beta reading even a portion of it, let me know!
Anyway, onto this week’s review: Moon Rising (Luna #3) by Ian McDonald.
The Cortas are the most egocentric, narcissistic, arrogant – outright weird – pack of fucks I have ever met.
These books have come up a few times on this blog, particularly in my Top Ten Tuesday posts, because it’s one of my favorite series. It’s epic on the scale of Game of Thrones, gory on the scale of Stephen King, clever on the scale of Kaz Brekker, and diverse to boot. I recommend this series every chance I get.
But that isn’t to say the books aren’t without their flaws. There are definitely some things I would have liked tightened up. The primary one being the amount of reading between the lines that’s needed to fully grasp these books. I happened to read this with buddies, who were wonderfully patient with me, and I like to think I would have understood better if my time wasn’t so stretched and I could really sit down and pay attention, but the truth is you have to infer quite a bit of information from these books. I had to re-read things a few times to figure out what I was witnessing.
I’ll be the first to tell you I’m really not that reader. I like books that make me think about life, current events, philosophy, religion you name it, but I’d prefer if the events of the book are pretty straight forward. This isn’t something I detract a lot of points for, because readers deserve to have books that challenge them. (As an aside- another beloved series, Terra Ignota is written a lot like this. Maybe it’s something I like more than I think I do.)
The second thing I would have changed is that, reading this, I felt like a lot of information was purposefully withheld from readers in the earlier books just to make them more suspenseful. That does annoy me. One example is Wagner and his “lycanthropy”. It does finally get an explanation in this book but the explanation was so simple that the big reveal felt very anticlimactic.
Finally, there were some characters whose storylines I hadn’t really invested in in books one and two because their storylines take awhile to get ramped up and they never really felt like the focus. Those storylines get some pretty thrilling conclusions in book three and I was cursing myself the whole time for not paying better attention to them. Likewise, I found myself missing some of the characters who were more important players early on and sort of faded to the background here.
But in the end, these books are some of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. The world building is solid, and it’s never told in boring info dumps. It throws you head first into this dark, ugly world with little more than a short dictionary to guide you. The characters are whole and three dimensional, motivated by their own desires, with unique voices. They’re colorful and vibrant and pop off the page. I adore the “heroes”. I love the justice dispensed to the villains. I read the last 150 pages almost all in one sitting because the conclusion was so perfect, I couldn’t look away for even a moment.
I’m sad it’s over, but I’m excited to jump into another McDonald book knowing what he’s capable of, and even more thrilled by the possibility of a new series to sink my teeth into. Perhaps most telling, is that I’m sincerely looking forward to re-reading them all when I have more time on my hands.
And every second I am away from them, it kills me.
Luna: Moon Rising can be purchased on Amazon here.
This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info
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 reasons I pick up a book. Pretty straightforward so I guess I’ll just hop right to it!
I know (and trust) the author. I mean- this list consists of maybe five people. Stephen King, Joe Hill, Bernard Cornwell, Sebastien de Castell, Ada Palmer (fictionally speaking) and Karen Marie Moning (okay that’s six). (Yes I’m aware the Fever series has tanked, I’ll probably keep reading anyway.) What’s interesting about this list is that at least four of these authors have books on my list that are 3 star reads or less. The point is, even their worst books manage to entertain me. Consistency means more to me than perfection.
Someone I trust, raved about or recommended it to me. The operative word in both these instances being trust. I get a lot of books recommended to me. Usually it results in a smile and a nod and a polite thank you, because a lot of recommendations go something like this:
Random person: What are you reading?
Me: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
Random person: Oh you like vampire novels? You should read Twilight!
Sorry Twilight- it’s not you, it’s me!
FOMO. Friends, the FOMO is real. And the FOMO hurts. This applies to pretty much every hyped book ever. FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out, in case you haven’t heard it before. (But I’m sure you’ve felt it at least once!) I recently picked up The Priory of the Orange Tree. Early reviews have led me to believe I won’t like it. I want to read it anyway. The only reason is FOMO. *shrugs*
Next in a series. I have no qualms about not finishing a series when I didn’t like the first book, or when the second book was just sort of meh. But if I loved the previous book(s) it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to pick up the next.
It’s got diverse settings, characters and/or mythology. There are so many stories and mythologies and settings out there that haven’t been explored. Can I get an adult LGBTQ+ Moana please? Or something that explores ancient China or Japan?
It’s got Vikings in it. I realize this is a relative contradiction of what I’ve stated above- but I would really love an Ivar the Boneless novel, or something that’s not strictly romance where they aren’t featured primarily as the bad guys. What can I say, I’ve got a problem.
I gotta see (or have seen) the movie. A lot of the time the movie is a disappointment, but hey, it’s put a book or two on my radar before. Conversely- there are some books I won’t read because I’m really worried it will ruin the movie for me (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games).
The cover. Sure I’m a little shallow. There’s a reason I’m not up to date on the classics of SFF. Have you seen those covers? Anyway- rest assured, covers might grab my attention but they can’t sell me on looks alone.
The book description. If the cover gets me to pick it up- it’s the description that will make or break the deal. I’m referring to the book’s summary here. (What I am not referring to, is all those taglines claiming “XYZ book is the next Game of Thrones.”)
It was given to me. I’ve had pretty good luck with giveaways the past couple years. My mother almost always gifts me a book or two for my birthday or Christmas. And then there’s the gifts I buy myself… you know. That sort of thing.
What about you? What makes you pick up a book?